Animal lovers descended on Trenton today to lobby New Jersey lawmakers for legislation to protect pets - and people.
Among the bill under consideration is S540, which would authorize courts to include animals in domestic violence restraining orders. Seventeen states - Pennsylvania is not among them - have laws protecting pets in domestic violence cases because of the high numbers of instances where spouses commit acts of violence against pets, often as retribution or as a precursor to spousal abuse.
“Abusers target family pets to ensure submission,” said Kathleen Schatzmann, New Jersey state director for The HSUS. “Unless courts include pets in domestic violence orders of protection, many people feel they have no alternative but to remain in violent households. Including pets in domestic violence restraining orders is a critical step toward combating the cycle of interpersonal violence.”
Citizen advocates will also be asking legislators to support S539, which would establish crimes of dog fighting and designate as a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) violation the act of serving as a leader of a dog fighting network.