When it comes to dealing with problems such as anxiety, depression, etc, a pet can do wonders and bring a smile to ones face. Caring for a pet can be comforting and this friendship can be more intimate, more open and more understanding than any human friendship one can have.
Many people become attached to their pets and treat them as their equals, offering them unconditional love and not thinking of them as an animal, but as a friend, or part of their family. This can prove to be beneficial for both parties and can make both of them closer, and happier.
Every year, more than 4 million are victims of domestic violence, also known as spousal abuse. One might not see the connection between pet ownership and abuse, but Adriana Meucci, an Animal Rights Advocate is campaigning to raise awareness about the correlation between domestic violence and pet ownership.
The connection is such: The logical action against domestic violence is to legally separate oneself from a violent spouse, but most don’t do so because they fear about the ownership and treatment of their pets. To make the issue even mote complicated, is that in case of any legal suits or divorces, the ownership of the pet remains uncertain and victims fear that their sole companion will fall into the hands of violent spouse, and fear abuse, mistreatment or even death of the animal. This created wary and fear of taking any action and continue to suffer the abuse silently. This is not an aimless worry. Most domestic violence abusers use animals as a way to keep control of their spouses and family by maiming, torturing, and even killing the family pets to maintain control and make victims comply with their wishes. Many victims witness animal violence, and when thoughts of fleeing, (which usually is to a shelter or a friends’ home; either may not be able to accommodate the animal(s). And so, they stay, as pets provide unconditional support and boost morale for victims.
In a recent Study, over 75% of women going through domestic violence confessed that they weren’t taking any action for sake of their pets. Meucci, who recently was awarded the title of “Outstanding Volunteer” by the Closter Animal Welfare Society, was horrified by the legal state of this issue.
She is campaigning for improved laws, which will allow unconditional ownership of one’s pets in case of domestic violence. In addition, she also is clamoring for on-site shelters for pets of victims. The second part is necessary, because as of now, domestic shelters don’t have adequate space or suitable timings for the Pets of these Victims, which is why Meucci is demanding a ramp up in accessibility standards of domestic Shelters.
“The Pets and Women Safety Act (H.R. 1258) would give expansive federal protection to pets of domestic violence victims. Moreover, this law would provide a much needed federal grant program to help provide safe haven and pet friendly domestic violence shelters. As one social worker from a domestic violence agency told me: ‘This law must simply be passed.’ Presently, the bill is before the Congress.” This act would give money to shelters and other organizations to increase the number of pet-friendly safe havens nationwide, removing pets a barrier for women and children seeking to leave domestic violence situations.
“The PAWS ACT needs to be passed because there exists a tremendous need for pet friendly housing and pet accommodations at domestic violence shelters,” Meucci explains. “Women and animals under the rule of their abusers are in imminent danger of being harmed, maimed, and sadly killed. This bill is vital for the safety and well-being of all concerned. No one has the right to abuse anyone physically, psychologically, emotionally, or financially. We need to provide people and animals a way out of this horror of family violence.”
Meucci added that that in many states pets can now be included in restraining orders, the PAWS ACT would take this a step further by making sure women can escape to safe havens with space for their pets as well as themselves and their children.
To achieve this goal, she has started Petition Signatures on The Petition Hub and Causes, and has also been campaigning on all major Social Channels, to ensure that her voice is being heard. She wants others to take up the mantle and enable more widespread awareness of this issue, so that the legal framework can undergo some changes to support these victims.