Maine Passes First Law in US Protecting Abused Spouses AND Pets

 |  Apr 17th 2006  |   0 Contributions


Barks all around for Maine! Maine's governor recently signed into law a bill that allows animals to be included in protective orders with threatened spouses. A recent article on Pet-Abuse.com tells the tale of Susan Walsh and how she convinced Maine legislators that it was time to protect threatened pets.

Maine resident Susan Walsh told legislators how her abusive husband maintained control over her by threatening her and her animals. But he did much more than just threaten her. Like many abusive spouses, his threats became deeds.

But she said she was afraid he would harm the animals on their 32-acre plot called Blessed Be Farm in Ellsworth, Me. In the past, she said in a telephone interview yesterday, he had retaliated against her by running over her blind and deaf border collie named Katydid, shooting two sheep and wringing the necks of her prized turkeys.

"It wasn't just the cats and the dogs I had, it was the sheep and the chickens I was terrified for their welfare," Ms. Walsh, 50, said. "I knew if I were to leave, he wouldn't hesitate to kill them. He had done it before."

Could Maine's legislation be the wave of the future? We can only hope so as states and cities around the country recognize what psychologists and counselors have been saying for years, that animal abuse is part of the bigger picture of spousal and other abuse.

Maine is believed to be the first state with such a law. But the issue has captured attention around the country as police departments, domestic-violence programs, animal protection societies and state officials become increasingly aware of a link between domestic violence and animal abuse.

A new program in Columbus, Ohio, takes animals of victims of domestic violence and places them in a women's prison, where the inmates care for them. In Nashville, the city gives such pets a safe haven for up to 30 days. And in St. Louis, the Domestic Violence Pet Assistance Program finds foster homes for the animals.

Let's hope the rest of the United States is watching and taking notes. Every state needs to pass similar legislation!

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