New law protects pets from domestic violence

 

People who abuse pets in the context of a relationship could be charged with domestic violence under a proposed new NSW law.

The protection of dogs, cats and other furry friends will be enshrined if a bill to be introduced to parliament next week is successful.

Attorney-General Mark Speakman made the announcement about the government's proposed changes to the Crimes Act on Sunday, which would change the definition of "intimidation" to include harm or threats to animals.

Mr Speakman also unveiled a new grants program to fund animal shelters supporting domestic violence victims and their furry companions.

Domestic violence survivor Talie Star (left) and Animal Justice Party MLC Emma Hurst with rescue dogs Ziggi and Frankie. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Monique Harmer
Domestic violence survivor Talie Star (left) and Animal Justice Party MLC Emma Hurst with rescue dogs Ziggi and Frankie. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Monique Harmer

"This is an important step that will make it easier to respond to this vile form of abuse that seeks to terrorise victims and their much-loved animals," he said.

Mr Speakman said animals were often used as a form of coercive control, and the changes would offer greater protection of domestic violence victims and survivors.

"Perpetrators use animals to intimidate, retaliate against, and manipulate victims during the relationship and after separation, as punishment for leaving," he said.

Attorney-General and Prevention of Domestic Violence Minister Mark Speakman announcing the proposed reforms. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Monique Harmer
Attorney-General and Prevention of Domestic Violence Minister Mark Speakman announcing the proposed reforms. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Monique Harmer

"Animal abuse in domestic violence settings can also delay victims leaving violent situations for fear of having their companion animals left unprotected with perpetrators."

Domestic Violence NSW interim chief executive Delia Donovan said domestic violence victims often revealed that perpetrators had threatened to harm or kill animals.

"Protecting animals from perpetrators will therefore continue to improve the safety of people experiencing domestic and family violence across NSW," she said.

In NSW you can face up to six months jail and a $5,500 fine if found guilty of committing an act of cruelty to an animal.

RSPCA NSW’s Steve Coleman welcomed a new grants program for animal shelters. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Monique Harmer
RSPCA NSW’s Steve Coleman welcomed a new grants program for animal shelters. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Monique Harmer

Mr Speakman said the NSW Government was committing $500,000 to a grants program supporting refuges and animal shelters that house companion animals of domestic violence victims.

The Pets and Animal Welfare Support (PAWS) Grants Program - PAWS for short - got underway on Sunday.

RSPCA NSW chief executive Steve Coleman said he was "really pleased" with the initiative and that organisation's shelters stood ready to support vulnerable members of the community.

Originally published as New law protects pets from DV



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