Massachusetts Dog is First in the State to be Protected under Domestic Violence Restraining Order

A six-year-old Labrador mix named Panzer is being kept in an unidentified location to protect him from a former abusive owner.  He is the first dog in Massachusetts to be recognized under a restraining order for domestic violence.

In August, Governor Deval Patrick signed a large bill called “An Act Further Regulating Animal Control.”  A smaller section of the law stipulates that possession of an animal may be awarded to a victim to “prohibit the accused from abusing, threatening or taking a pet.”  Previously, a judge could only mandate that the accused stay away from the victim and their child(ren).

A Plymouth County judge embraced the new law and included Panzer in the order against his owner’s boyfriend.

“In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need it,” said Kara Holmquist, Director of Advocacy for the MSPCA.  “But it’s good that judges are becoming aware of it.”

Research has indicated that over 70 percent of abused women say their abusers have threatened to harm or kill their pets.  Nearly 50 percent of victims put off leaving abusive and dangerous situations for fear of what might happen to pets that get left behind.

“Leaving a pet behind is not an option,” Holmquist said.  “It’s about animals and their safety and removing the barrier so people can feel the pet is protected in a situation.”

Panzer is currently staying in a foster home while his mother and her young son stay at an out-of-state domestic violence shelter.

“It is hoped that [the judge’s] order for the inclusion of Panzer in [this] Restraining Order has set a precedent and that moving forward we will see a lot more of these Abuse Protection Orders,” said Marshfield Animal Control Officer Demi Goldman.

Hopefully this law will gain favor and be passed in other states.  Perhaps then domestic violence shelters might also open their hearts a little more to allow animals to stay with and be just as well-protected as their owners who were brave enough to leave and seek help.

4 thoughts on “Massachusetts Dog is First in the State to be Protected under Domestic Violence Restraining Order”

  1. Its sounds like you need to move to Massachusetts! 😉 We have a bad rap about being not too friendly but… that’s what happens when you care about the world around you and are personally invested in it. Forever aware and diligent… like Mad Eye Moody! But you wouldn’t want to have anyone else fighting for you.

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  2. If only more shelters followed suit. Some domestic violence victims won’t leave because of the animals that would have to be left behind because of nowhere to take the animals, so by having that bill in place, you are actually saving lives of people who would leave if they could take their family pets with them. Pets ARE family and should be included as such.

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