Domestic Violence Survivors And Their Pets: Rights, Protections, And Best Interests-NYSBA
A majority of households in the United States share their home with a pet or companion animal and, often, that animal is a deeply cherished part of the family. However, in cases of intimate partner violence and abuse, these beloved animals may be impacted. Pets may become a tool of power and control. Abusive partners may intentionally target an animal for harm or make vicious or coercive threats of harm. In some cases, the animal may be in the crossfire or, as a witness, be negatively impacted by the stress and violence in the home environment. As a result, domestic violence survivors with pets face complicated decisions when attempting to exit a relationship that is abusive. In the most dangerous cases, they may delay ending the relationship because they will not leave their pets behind.
This joint program between the Committee on Animals and the Law and the Domestic Violence Committee of the Family Law Section gathers various professionals with different roles and perspectives to discuss the intersection between domestic violence and animal protections provisions, including emerging laws, policies, and case law. Participants will leave with a better understanding of how to keep animals and the humans who love them safer when domestic violence is involved.
The program will address:
• The challenging dynamics of domestic violence and its intersection with pets and companion animals
• The evolving case law addressing animal custody and protection
• Securing orders of protection that include companion animals
• Domestic violence shelter supports and services in NY for survivors and their animals
• Discussion of the 2021 Domestic Relations Law amendment that requires courts to consider the “best interests of the animal” in divorce cases
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