The bill, signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, takes effect July 1 

By Ally Mauch
July 01, 2020 03:07 PM
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Domestic violence survivors and their pets now have added protections in Florida thanks to the passage of a new bill.

The law, SB 1082, allows judges to include pets in restraining orders against domestic abusers and allows pets to remain with owners who are survivors of abuse. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into the law in June and the protections will take effect beginning July 1.

"With this new law, Florida joins more than 30 other states who have enacted meaningful public policies to safeguard both humans and pets from violence in the home," the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (ASPCA) said in a statement responding to the Florida bill’s passage.

According to research from the ASPCA, one in four domestic violence survivors have reported returning to an abusive partner out of concern for their pet.

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Further, 71 percent of survivors reported that their partner had implicitly or explicitly threatened the animal as a way to maintain power and over 50 percent of pet-owning women entering domestic violence shelters reported that their abusers threatened, harmed, or killed a family pet.

“Under normal circumstances, adults, children, and pets living in an abusive home often face major obstacles to escape harm’s way. Unfortunately, the necessity of staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has made this situation substantially more dangerous for both people and pets,” Jennifer Hobgood, senior director of state legislation for the ASPCA's Southeast Region, said in the statement.

"As our nation responds to this pandemic, reports of increasing rates of domestic violence have surfaced in many areas, including Florida," she added. "This lifesaving law now makes it clear that courts may include family pets in temporary restraining orders, and we thank Governor DeSantis for signing this bill to help domestic violence survivors and their pets reach safety."

Amy Carotenuto, executive director of the Flagler County Humane Society in Florida told local news outlet News13 that the new legislation "can really make a difference."

"People won’t have to hide, people can come forward, include their pet in their restraining orders and hopefully get some help," Carotenuto said. "It’s really exciting to be a part of making that kind of difference not only in Flagler County but across Florida."

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.