BY BTL STAFF
"Ensuring victims are aware they can include their companion animals in a personal protection order not only can save the animal from further abuse, it can save the human victims, both adults and children, from being controlled and forced back into violent situations."
– Rep. Robert Kosowski (D-Westland)
Judges in Michigan now have the legal authority to include pets in Personal Protection Orders for victims of domestic violence.
Gov. Rick Snyder signed HB 4478 into law in May 2016 to provide more protections for Michigan families and to help keep people with their pets during times of great distress.
Rep. Robert Kosowski (D-Westland) introduced the critical bill, which received overwhelming bipartisan support.
"Often, in domestic violence situations, the perpetrator of the abuse will use a family pet as a way to control their human victims," Kosowski said. "In essence, my legislation would add a check box so that a domestic violence victim can include his or her pet while obtaining a personal protection order."
The Michigan Humane Society, which investigates more than 5,000 animal cruelty complaints in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park each year, consistently testified in support of HB 4478 as it made its way through legislature.
MHS reports that many domestic violence victims often look to surrender their pets or have them humanely euthanized as a "better option" than leaving them with their abusers.
Currently, 28 other states have similar provisions in place. The state of Minnesota has been tracking the number of PPOs that include companion animals since 2010. The number increased from 167 to 1067 in 2013.
"Statistics such as these show that once domestic violence victims became aware they could include companion animals in personal protection orders, they overwhelmingly chose to do so," he said.
"This legislation is more than just including a check box on a form. Right now, domestic violence victims are not leaving their dangerous situations because their abuser is using the family pet as a pawn. Ensuring victims are aware they can include their companion animals in a personal protection order not only can save the animal from further abuse, it can save the human victims, both adults and children, from being controlled and forced back into violent situations," he said.
"I am extremely happy that the Governor saw the importance of this legislation, and acted quickly to sign it into law. I'm proud that Michigan will now join several other states in furthering protections for both human victims of domestic violence, and their companion animals as well."