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Domestic Violence and Pets: List of States that Include Pets in Protection Orders

Rebecca F. Wisch


Animal Legal & Historical Center
Publish Date:
2014
Place of Publication: Michigan State University College of Law
Printable Version

Domestic Violence and Pets: List of States that Include Pets in Protection Orders

 

Note that 25 states (as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico) to date (2014) have enacted legislation that include provisions for pets in DV protection orders.

 

1. Arizona

AZ ST § 13-3602; A. R. S. § 13-3602

This Arizona law provides that, if a court issues an order of protection, the court may grant the petitioner the exclusive care, custody or control of any animal that is owned, possessed, leased, kept or held by the petitioner, the respondent or a minor child residing in the residence or household of the petitioner or the respondent, and order the respondent to stay away from the animal and forbid the respondent from taking, transferring, encumbering, concealing, committing an act of cruelty or neglect in violation of section 13- 2910 or otherwise disposing of the animal.

 

2. Arkansas

AR ST § 9-15-205; A.C.A. § 9-15-205

Upon a finding of domestic abuse, a court may "[d]irect the care, custody, or control of any pet owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by either party residing in the household" in an order for protection filed by a petitioner. 

 

3. California

CA FAM § 6320 - 6327; West's Ann. Cal. Fam. Code § 6320 - 6327

On a showing of good cause, the court may include in a protective order a grant to the petitioner of the exclusive care, possession, or control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by either the petitioner or the respondent or a minor child residing in the residence or household of either the petitioner or the respondent.

 

4. Colorado 

CO ST § 18-6-800.3; C. R. S. A. § 18-6-800.3 

"Domestic violence" also includes any other crime against a person, or against property, including an animal, or any municipal ordinance violation against a person, or against property, including an animal.

 

5. District of Columbia (D.C.)

DC ST § 16-1005; DC CODE § 16-1005

This D.C. law provides that if, after a hearing, the judicial officer finds that there is good cause to believe the respondent has committed or threatened to commit a criminal offense against the petitioner or against petitioner's animal or an animal in petitioner's household, the judicial officer may issue a protection order that directs the care, custody, or control of a domestic animal that belongs to petitioner or respondent or lives in his or her household.

 

6. Connecticut

CT ST § 46b-15; C. G. S. A. § 46b-15 

Under this Connecticut law, any family or household member who has been subjected to a continuous threat of present physical pain or physical injury by another family or household member or person in, or has recently been in, a dating relationship who has been subjected to a continuous threat of present physical pain or physical injury by the other person in such relationship may apply to the Superior Court for an order of protection. The court may also make orders for the protection of any animal owned or kept by the applicant including, but not limited to, an order enjoining the respondent from injuring or threatening to injure such animal.

 

7. Hawaii

HI ST § 586-4; H R S § 586-4

In Hawaii, the ex parte temporary restraining order may also enjoin or restrain both of the parties from taking, concealing, removing, threatening, physically abusing, or otherwise disposing of any animal identified to the court as belonging to a household, until further order of the court.
 

8. Illinois

IL ST CH 725 § 5/112A-14; 725 I.L.C.S. 5/112A-14 

This Illinois law allows a court to issue an order of protection if the court finds that petitioner has been abused by a family or household member. It also allows for the protection of animals in domestic violence situations. The court can "[g]rant the petitioner the exclusive care, custody, or control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by either the petitioner or the respondent or a minor child residing in the residence or household of either the petitioner or the respondent and order the respondent to stay away from the animal and forbid the respondent from taking, transferring, encumbering, concealing, harming, or otherwise disposing of the animal."

 

9. Louisiana

LA R.S. 46:2135; LSA-R.S. 46:2135 

This Louisiana law allows a court to enter a temporary restraining order, without bond, as it deems necessary to protect from abuse the petitioner. Among the provisions is one that allows the court to grant ". . . to the petitioner the exclusive care, possession, or control of any pets belonging to or under the care of the petitioner or minor children residing in the residence or household of either party, and directing the defendant to refrain from harassing, interfering with, abusing or injuring any pet, without legal justification, known to be owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by either party or a minor child residing in the residence or household of either party."  
 

10. Maine

ME ST T. 19-A § 4007; 19-A M. R. S. A. § 4007 

This Maine law concerning personal protection orders in cases of abuse was amended in March of 2006 to include companion animals in protection orders.  The new language specifies that a court may enter an order directing the care, custody or control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept or held by either party or a minor child residing in the household.

 

11. Maryland

MD FAMILY § 4-501, 504.1; MD Code, Family Law, § 4-501, 504.1

This Maryland law amended in 2011 allows an interim protective order to award temporary possession of any pet (defined in § 4-501 as a domesticated animal except livestock) to the person eligible for relief or the respondent).

 

12. Massachusetts

M.G.L.A. 209A § 11, MA ST 209A § 11

This Massachusetts law, effective October of 2012, allows the court to order the possession, care and control of any domesticated animal owned, possessed, leased, kept or held by either party or a minor child residing in the household to the plaintiff or petitioner in a no contact or restraining order. The court may order the defendant to refrain from abusing, threatening, taking, interfering with, transferring, encumbering, concealing, harming or otherwise disposing of such animal. 

 

13. Minnesota

MN ST § 518B.01; M.S.A. § 518B.01

This law reflects Minnesota's provision for restraining orders in cases of domestic abuse. An amendment in 2010 concerns the care and keeping of a companion animal owed by either petitioner or respondent, and has a provision to allow the court to prevent harm to such animal. As stated in the law, "The order may direct the care, possession, or control of a pet or companion animal owned, possessed, or kept by the petitioner or respondent or a child of the petitioner or respondent. It may also direct the respondent to refrain from physically abusing or injuring any pet or companion animal, without legal justification, known to be owned, possessed, kept, or held by either party or a minor child residing in the residence or household of either party as an indirect means of intentionally threatening the safety of such person."

 

14. Nevada

NEV. REV. STAT. §33.018; NV ST §33.018 

In Nevada, a knowing, purposeful or reckless course of conduct intended to harass the other such as injuring or killing an animal, is included in their definition of Domestic Violence. A victim can then get a Protection Order and enjoin the adverse party from physically injuring, threatening to injure or taking possession of any animal that is owned or kept by the applicant or minor child, either directly or through an agent.

 

15. New Jersey

On January 17, 2012, Governor Christie signed the Domestic Violence Pet Protection Law. The law authorizes courts to include pets in domestic violence restraining orders. The court is allowed to enter an order "prohibiting the defendant from having any contact with any animal owed, possessed, leased, kept or held by either party or a minor child residing in the household."

 

16. New York

NY FAM CT § 842; McKinney's Family Court Act § 842 

This New York law pertains to the issuance of protection orders.  In July of 2006, the amendment that allows companion animals owned by the petitioner of the order or a minor child residing in the household to be included in the order was signed into law.  The law specifically allows a court to order the respondent to refrain from intentionally injuring or killing, without justification, any companion animal the respondent knows to be owned, possessed, leased, kept or held by the petitioner or a minor child residing in the household.

 

17. North Carolina

NC ST § 50B-3; N.C.G.S.A. § 50B-3

This North Carolina law reflects the state's provision for protective orders in cases of domestic abuse. A protective order may provide for possession of personal property of the parties, including the care, custody, and control of any animal owned, possessed, kept, or held as a pet by either party or minor child residing in the household. The court may also order a party to refrain from cruelly treating or abusing an animal owned, possessed, kept, or held as a pet by either party or minor child residing in the household.

 

18. Oklahoma

OK ST T. 22 § 60.2; 22 Okl. St. Ann. § 60.2

This Oklahoma law reflects the state's provision for protective orders in cases of domestic abuse. The person seeking a protective order may further request the exclusive care, possession, or control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by either the petitioner, defendant or minor child residing in the residence of the petitioner or defendant. The court may order the defendant to make no contact with the animal and forbid the defendant from taking, transferring, encumbering, concealing, molesting, attacking, striking, threatening, harming, or otherwise disposing of the animal.

 

19. Oregon

O.R.S. § 107.718, OR ST § 107.718

Under this Oregon law, if requested by a petitioner who has been the victim of domestic abuse, the court may enter an order to protect a companion or therapy animal. This includes an order to "[p]revent the neglect and protect the safety of any service or therapy animal or any animal kept for personal protection or companionship, but not an animal kept for any business, commercial, agricultural or economic purpose."

 

20. Puerto Rico

PR ST T. 5 § 1678; 5 L.P.R.A. § 1678

This Puerto Rico law provides that, in all cases in which a person is accused of domestic violence or child abuse, the court shall, by petition of party, issue a protection order for the petitioner so that he/she be the sole custodian of the animal. The court shall order the accused to keep far away from the animal and prohibit contact of any kind. Violation is a fourth-degree felony.

 

21. Tennessee

TN ST §36-3-601; T. C. A. § 36-3-601 

Tennessee's Domestic Abuse definition includes inflicting, or attempting to inflict, physical injury on any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by an adult or minor. 

 

22. Texas

V.T.C.A., Family Code § 85.021, TX FAMILY § 85.021

In a protective order in Texas, the court may prohibit a party from removing a pet, companion animal, or assistance animal, as defined by Section 121.002, Human Resources Code, from the possession of a person named in the order.

 

23. Vermont

VT ST T. 15 § 1103; 15 V.S.A. § 1103

Vermont law was amended to allow a court to include an order relating to the possession, care and control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held as a pet by either party or a minor child residing in the household in a domestic violence situation. 

 

24. Washington

WA ST 26.50.060; West's RCWA 26.50.060

This Washington law reflects the state's provision for protective orders in cases of domestic abuse. In addition to other forms of relief, a court may also order possession and use of essential personal effects. Personal effects may include pets. The court may order that a petitioner be granted the exclusive custody or control of any pet owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by the petitioner, respondent, or minor child residing with either the petitioner or respondent and may prohibit the respondent from interfering with the petitioner's efforts to remove the pet. The court may also prohibit the respondent from knowingly coming within, or knowingly remaining within, a specified distance of specified locations where the pet is regularly found.

 

25. West Virginia

WV ST § 48-27-503; W. Va. Code, § 48-27-503

In West Virginia, the terms of a protective order may include awarding the petitioner the exclusive care, possession, or control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept or held by either the petitioner or the respondent or a minor child residing in the residence or household of either the petitioner or the respondent and prohibiting the respondent from taking, concealing, molesting, physically injuring, killing or otherwise disposing of the animal and limiting or precluding contact by the respondent with the animal.



 

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