By Marc Kovac
Courts could include pets in protection orders in cases of alleged domestic violence and other crimes, under legislation being considered in the Ohio Senate.
Sen. Michael Skindell, D-Lakewood, offered SB 177 as a way to protect household companion animals and abuse victims.
“Numerous studies have been conducted, and they report that as many as 98 percent of Americans consider their pets to be companions or members of the family,” Skindell told members of the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee. “This emotional attachment to animals highlights why victims of domestic violence in some cases feel compelled to remain in a situation that puts them at risk for violence to continue.”
SB 177, which had its first hearing Tuesday, would allow judges to include pets when issuing civil stalking or sexually oriented offense protection, domestic violence and other orders.
Courts could order alleged offenders from “abusing, threatening, injuring, concealing, disposing of or interfering with the care, custody and control of a companion animal,” according to an analysis by the state’s Legislative Service Commission.
Judges also could order pets to be removed from the possession of alleged offenders and prohibit the latter from having contact with the animals.
Skindell cited studies showing that “71 percent of pet-owning women who entered a domestic-violence shelter reported that their partner killed, harmed or threatened their animal. ... Codifying this language will take additional steps that are necessary to ensure the victims of domestic violence are receiving the level of protection necessary.”
Two dozen other states already have comparable laws on the books, he added.