Animals are Victims too

Family is more than blood

Domestic Violence

What is Domestic Violence? 

 “A pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner,” as these are not individual violent incidents.  Domestic violence Commonly involves the abuser threating the victim’s animals and is a major reason why many women will not leave their abuser for fear the abuser will harm their animal. 

Many shelters will not take animals, which limits where a victim can go for safety. Sociological and statistical studies show that all types abuse that occur within the home are highly related to other types of abuse that occur within the same household.  It is common for animal and child welfare officers in identifying and preventing domestic, child, and animal abuse through cross reporting and admission of evidence.


 In 2015 Congress introduced H.R. 1258 and S.1559, Pet and Women Safety Act of 2015 (PAWS). The purpose of this law is expand current federal law to include protections for pets of domestic violence victims and establish a federal grant program to help ensure the victims have access to safe shelter for their pets and themselves.

Amends Federal criminal code to prohibit threats or acts of violence against a person's pet under the offenses of stalking and interstate violation of a protection order. A "pet" is defined as a domesticated animal that is kept for pleasure rather than for commercial purposes.

The act requires the "full amount of the victim's losses" for purposes of restitution in domestic violence and stalking offenses to include any costs incurred for veterinary services relating to physical care for the victim's pet.

Directs  Department of Agriculture to award grants to eligible entities to carry out programs to provide specified housing assistance, support services, and training of relevant stakeholders to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking and their pets.

Expresses the sense states should encourage the inclusion of protections against violent or threatening acts against the pet of the person in domestic violence protection orders.


Pet and Women Safety Act (PAWS) 

puppy-with-suitcase PAWS Act. jpg.jpg

Again on February 7, 2017 PAWS Act of 2017 was introduced in the house, H.R. 909, of the 115th Congress. You can follow the bill's process here


people v. garcia, 29 A.D.3d 255 (N.Y. App. Div. 2006).

In People v. Garcia, victim Emelie Martinez was living with Defendant, Michael Garcia, in an apartment with her three (3) children and an eighteen (18) year old high school student. They also had two (2) dogs, a cat, and three (3) goldfish, each named after three children.

 Early one morning Martinez woke to the Defendant standing above her in the bedroom holding the goldfish, Juan, in his tank. Then the Defendant threw the fish tank into the television yelling, “that could have been you!” The event caused the children to walk into the room and the Defendant turned to the child, Juan, asking him “you want to see something awesome?” Then the Defendant stomped on the goldfish named after Juan in front of Juan.

Defendant attacked Martinez inside her bedroom. He grabbed Martinez by the right hand, and flung her onto the bed. He began punching her head and face with closed fists. One blow forced her teeth against her inner cheek and caused bleeding inside her mouth. After punching her three or four times, the defendant allowed her to get up and she went into the bathroom, where she tried to stop the bleeding by rinsing her mouth with cold water.

Defendant followed Martinez into the bathroom and told her to go back to the bedroom. She sat down on the bed, and after the Defendant closed the door, climbed onto her, pinned her down with his knee on her chest, and began choking her with his right hand. Martinez could not breathe and while the defendant was choking her, he reached into his pants pocket with his left, and pulled out a knife he always carried. Eventually Martinez managed to break loose and scream for her son. The defendant dropped the knife on the bed, unopened. The assault eventually escalated to the point where the defendant attacked Rabassa and nine-year-old Juan. The defendant was arrested later that same day.

 The New York court of appeals held that the Defendant’s actions of stomping on the goldfish in front of the child was aggravated cruelty of a companion animal under N.Y. §343-a(1).