Utah legislation to protect pets from domestic violence is moving forward.
Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) A cat in the "Purradise City" cat room, at Ruff Haven pet shelter, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021.
One lady claimed that her former partner purchased a puppy to distract her from his drunkenness, but that he later threatened to mistreat the dog if she attempted to flee the situation.
Several women have testified to state lawmakers about how their abusive ex used their daughter's assistance dog to keep them under control since he knew they wouldn't be able to leave without it.
Animal advocates and domestic violence experts testified before a legislative committee in Utah on Friday that their stories are not uncommon.
According to the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, more than 70% of pet owners who seek refuge in a domestic violence shelter report that their abuser has threatened or harmed their animal as well. In addition, as many as a quarter of survivors will return to an abusive spouse because they are concerned for their animal companion.
The reason for this is that Representative Angela Romero introduced legislation to provide domestic abuse survivors with choices for protecting their pets. Her bill, HB175, would allow survivors to include their pets on court-issued protective orders, which would prevent the abuser from injuring, threatening, or attempting to take ownership of the animal in the meanwhile.
According to Abigail Benesh of the Humane Society of Utah, abusers frequently take advantage of the emotional bonds their victims have to their dogs. So their pets are forced to play the brutal game of pressure, manipulation, and control that is played in order to create an environment of dread and induced compliance.
Animal advocates have told state lawmakers that abusers have been known to harm or even murder animals in order to get revenge on their victims.
Several examples have received widespread attention in recent years, according to Rachel Heatley of the Humane Society of the United States.
After two women accused him of beating them and harming or murdering their animals, a Farmington man was arrested and charged with domestic violence last year. According to FOX13, one of the ladies claimed that he had killed four of her animals over a two-month period.
Dixie, a red heeler who was purposely set on fire and abandoned beside Interstate 80 in Tooele, was the subject of another instance from the previous year. According to police, a guy set Dixie on fire in order to exact revenge on her owner, with whom he had previously had a romantic involvement.