Companion Pets To Be Protected In Civil Protection Orders
Senate Bill 177 empowers domestic abuse victims to leave volatile environments

Columbus—A bill to empower domestic abuse victims to seek safety from volatile environments without worrying about the well-being of their pets will now go to the governor to be signed into law after passing the Ohio House yesterday.  Senate bill 177, sponsored by Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood), allows judges to authorize the protection of companion animals in temporary protection orders, domestic violence protection orders, anti-stalking protection orders, and related protection orders. 
“The final passage of this legislation sends a message to victims that their safety as well as those who are considered family members, such as their pets, is a top priority,” said Senator Skindell. “Animals are a piece of property and abusers should not use them to overpower victims.”

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), seventy-one percent of pet-owning women entering domestic abuse violence shelters report that their abuser killed, harmed, or threatened their animal.  Too often, a woman will not leave an abusive situation if she has to leave a pet behind unprotected.

To date twenty-four other states have passed similar measures to not only protect pets but provide support to victims of domestic violence who are pet owners. Supporters of Senate Bill 177 include the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Cruelty Task Force of Ohio, Ohio Federated Humane Societies, and the Ohio Voters for Companion Animals.

The Ohio House also included an amendment to provide critical funding for the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation. The amendment would eliminate the surcharge exemption for domestic relations cases while also providing a fee surcharge for juvenile custody, visitation and parentage filings to support the foundation which was created by the General Assembly to fund and improve civil legal aid. It relies on the interest on lawyer trust accounts and a civil filing fee surcharge to fund Ohio’s civil legal aid services.

“Due to the state of the nation’s economy and a substantial decrease in the number of civil filings in Ohio, the foundation is facing a critical funding crisis,” said Skindell. “This change in statue would allow the foundation to continue to provide funding for much needed services to thousands of Ohioans navigating Ohio’s court system.”


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