Governor Jerry Brown Vetoes Critical Bills Aimed To Protect Domestic Violence Victims & Their Pets In California

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October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and sadly, this year it is also marked by a missed opportunity for California to provide much-needed protection for victims of this type of abuse and their pets.

The ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence recently expressed their disappointment regarding Governor Jerry Brown’s veto of two bills that would have provided victims of domestic violence and their pets with critical protections in times of crisis.

Existing law in California allows a victim of a violent crime to be compensated for the costs associated with finding alternative housing, if the expenses are necessary for the personal safety or emotional well-being of the victim.

A.B. 1939, authored by Assemblymember Marc Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga), sought to add to that provision any expenses related to temporarily housing pets at an animal shelter or facility, while the victim enters a domestic violence shelter. S.B. 1005, authored by Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), would have clarified existing law to include a pet deposit as an eligible relocation cost.

“We are deeply disappointed by the Governor’s veto of S.B. 1005 and A.B. 1939. Collectively, these bills would provide an important safety net for victims of domestic violence seeking to escape a volatile situation while also protecting the safety of their pets,” Susan Riggs, senior director of state legislation for the ASPCA, Western region, said in a statement. “The veto of these bills represents a missed opportunity to support victims of domestic abuse and their pets.”

The connection between domestic violence and animal cruelty is well-documented. Abusers often harm pets to intimidate and control their human victims or to prevent them from leaving. Too often, victims of domestic violence stay in dangerous relationships and delay seeking help out of fear for the safety of the pets they must leave behind. Research shows that 71 percent of pet-owning women entering domestic violence shelters report that their abuser threatened, harmed, or killed a family pet.*

“These bills provided much needed clarity and explicit authorization for exactly the kind of help that victims of abuse need most in order to escape imminent danger,” continued Riggs. “We thank Senate President pro Tempore Atkins and Assemblymember Steinorth for their leadership in attempting to address this shortfall in the law and we will continue to work with legislators to ensure California law offers victims of domestic violence and their pets a clear pathway out of danger.”

The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (the Partnership) is California’s recognized domestic violence coalition, representing over 1,000 survivors, advocates, organizations and allied individuals across the state. Working at the local, state and national levels for nearly 40 years, the Partnership has a long track record of successfully passing over 200 pieces of legislation on behalf of domestic violence victims and their children.

WAN reported last week the positive news that Governor Brown recently signed a bill to require Judges to consider pets more like children than possessions in divorce proceedings.

How does he not think that they should then be granted similar protection as other family members who are affected by domestic violence?

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