Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter recently signed Senate Bill 80, sponsored by Senator Linda Newell and Representative Jerry Frangas to provide protection for families and their animals.
"Abusers and stalkers often follow a 'pattern of crime over time': damage property, injure or kill a pet, then attack their victim. This will close a gap in our law to provide law enforcement and the courts with another tool to prevent domestic violence and potentially save lives. With this simple clarification, protective orders will be much stronger, and will do just what they are supposed to: protect victims and prevent domestic violence," said Senator Newell.
According to testimony from Dr. Frank Ascione, the American Humane Endowed Chair and the Executive Director of the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver, there are numerous examples of the co-occurrence of domestic abuse and animal abuse.
“Senate Bill 80 will give law enforcement the ability to protect families, children and those who are at-risk,” said Gov. Ritter. “This legislation fills a gap between civil and criminal law to protect families.”
One figure estimates that in 55% of homes where there is domestic violence and there are animals, the abuser also threatens or harms the animals. There are documented cases of women who delay going to shelters out of concern for the well being of their pets. Additionally, there are concerns regarding the negative impacts on children who are exposed to animal abuse.
“We are pleased that animals will now be included under protection orders which are issued in Colorado. By legally protecting animals, we decrease the use of a common manipulative tactic used by domestic violence abusers in the coercion of his/her partner,” said Representative Frangas. “For so many of us, pets are part of our families, and clarifying the law to protect them makes sense and is the right thing to do.”