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WV Domestic Violence Protection Orders Extended To Pets

March 29, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Governor Joe Manchin has just signed a law that allows judges to include pets in domestic violence protection orders. Advocates say that'll help women get out of abusive situations.

Tracy Coppola with the American Humane Association says 70 percent of victims reported that their abusers had threatened or hurt their pets.

"'If you leave me I will kill the cat, I'll stab the cat.' The abuser will often hurt the pet or threaten to hurt the pet in order to scare that victim into submission."

Coppola's organization is not to be confused with the Human Society; the Human Association focuses on maltreatment of children as well as on animal abuse. She says violence against animals can desensitize the children in an abusive home, and distort their view of the world.

"People who even witness animal cruelty were over eight times more likely to perpetrate violence. These are kids that are not necessarily even being abused themselves, but they're witnessing the violence to their animals."

West Virginia joins 13 other states with similar provisions.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV