New Massachusetts law protects pets in domestic violence situations

A new Massachusetts law aimed at protecting pets from potentially dangerous domestic violence environments has been put to use for the first time, according to the Taunton Daily Gazette.

A 6-year-old dog named Panzer from Marshfield, Mass., was the first beneficiary of the recently passed Senate Bill 2192, which gives courts the power to grant custody of pets to domestic violence victims and take measures to provide a safer environment for the animals.

The law was set in motion when Panzer's 38-year-old owner filed for a restraining order against her allegedly abusive boyfriend, whom she accused of kicking and dragging the dog in the past, according to the Daily Gazette.

The woman also told the court that her boyfriend might try to abduct the dog if given the chance.

After the court issued a protection order in the case, Marshfield animal control officers placed Panzer with a foster family until his owner and her son are safely able to leave the domestic violence shelter where they are staying.

“I give her updates (about Panzer) by phone,” Deni Michele Goldman, Marshfield animal control officer, told the Daily Gazette. “And once she gets settled into a safe place, she will have her dog again.”

The situation is illustrative of the correlation found between domestic violence and animal abuse, Goldman told the media.

According to her, more than 70 percent of people reporting domestic violence have also reported that the abusers made threats against pets - often in an attempt to force the abuse victim to stay around.

Related reading: AVMA animal welfare expert discusses abuse reporting

NEWStat Legislation & regulation