The safety and wellbeing of our beloved pets are understandably at the forefront of many of our minds at times. Domestic Violence NSW explained that perpetrators of domestic violence will often threaten to harm or kill animals to gain control in the relationship.
Recently, the NSW Government has announced plans to amend the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 and provide greater protections to domestic violence victims and their pets. The amendments will essentially expand the definition of ‘intimidation’ to include harm and harm threatened to pets, in a domestic violence context. This would expand Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVO) to include intimidation to the pet.
Unfortunately, the intimidation and manipulation of pets can delay victims from leaving an abusive relationship for fear or safety of their pets. The reform aims to charge perpetrators with domestic violence offences, in circumstances where threats are made to pets with an intent to coerce or control or cause intimidation or fear to the victim.
The NSW Government further invested $500,000 to introduce the Pets and Animal Welfare Support (PAWS) Grants Program. The program aims to provide greater support to refuges and animal shelters in the context of providing care for pets when domestic violence victims have left their households. The plan is for refuges to become pet-friendly and to enable animal welfare services to facilitate foster care for pets in domestic violent households.
The combination of the law reform and the PAWS Program by the NSW Government will hopefully give greater confidence for victims of domestic violence to leave their violent homes and not have to worry about their pet’s wellbeing.