OREGON – Often violence against humans and animals intertwine, with pets becoming both intentional and collateral damage at the hands of abusers, who use them to hurt victims of domestic abuse when they seek protection. Oregon’s new law protecting animals in domestic violence cases and including them in restraining orders serves to protect both people and animals, because often the victims are afraid of what will happen to their beloved pet if they leave, so their pets are literally held hostage. This a huge step in the treatment and protection of innocent animals and an equally visionary way (at least legally) of seeing pets as members of the family capable of suffering pain as deeply as a human. Bravo Oregon! — Global Animal

Photo Credit: Animal Legal Defense Fund

Animal Legal Defense Fund, Stephan Otto

Since 2003, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has been working on various proposals to ensure that animals may be fully protected within Oregon’s domestic violence protective orders (or “restraining orders”).

Previously under Oregon law, courts had the authority to include animals in these orders upon a finding that their inclusion was necessary for the “safety and welfare” of the person requesting the order. While some courts utilized this provision, others unfortunately balked.

Due to this inconsistent treatment, ALDF joined with other animal protection, domestic violence and law enforcement organizations last year, helping to draft and advocate for a new legislative proposal, SB 616. The goal is to remove any ambiguity in the law by specifically authorizing courts to include companion animals in these protective orders.

On June 7, Oregon Governor Kitzhaber signed SB 616 into law. This has been an ongoing effort for many years. We are thrilled that we finally have resolution on this issue in Oregon – that the law can now better protect animals in harm’s way. This is a vital component to the goal of reducing community violence for all residents, both those with two legs and those with four.

Oregon joins nineteen other states and D.C. by enacting a law which expressly provides for animals in protective orders. The new law takes effect immediately.


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