Last year, we reported on Senate Bill 177, a proposed law that was designed to give judges the ability to extend protection orders to include domestic violence victims’ pets. Then, earlier this year, we reported that Governor John Kasich signed the bill into law. This was an important step for victims of domestic violence and their animals – and one that now puts Ohio among the majority of states that recognize the need to provide legal protection for pets living under abusive conditions.
Recap: Senate Bill 177 and Protection Orders for Animals
Prior to the enactment of Senate Bill 177, Ohio law was silent on the question of whether protective orders could extend to pets. This left many judges feeling powerless to take action to protect these helpless animals – which in turn affected the victims of domestic violence who were unwilling to leave their pets behind. Senate Bill 177 received bipartisan support and passed both houses of the state legislature falling just one vote shy of unanimous approval.
Then, in December 2014, Ohio’s Governor signed Senate Bill 177 into law. With the stroke of a pen, judges now have the legal support they needed to include pets in the protection orders they issued for victims of domestic violence.
Ohio Joins Majority of States that Protect Animals from Domestic Violence
According to the ASPCA, Ohio is now one of 27 states that have enacted laws specifically providing for pet protective orders in cases of domestic violence. Specifically, Ohio’s new law allows judges to issue protective orders that:
- “Require that the respondent not remove, damage, hide, harm, or dispose of any companion animal owned or possessed by the petitioner;” and
- “Authorize the petitioner to remove a companion animal owned by the petitioner from the possession of the respondent.”
“Respondent” refers to the spouse or partner accused of domestic violence, while “petitioner” refers to the victim who is being abused. As a result, the effect of Ohio’s pet protection order law is that domestic violence victims who seek legal help should no longer have to worry if their pets will be safe if they leave their homes. Abusers who harm protected animals will face serious legal consequences, and victims who receive appropriate protection orders will be fully within their rights to take their beloved pets with them when they leave.
As stated by the ASPCA’s legislative director, “No one should have to make the impossible choice between escaping an abusive situation and ensuring their pet’s safety.” Now, in Ohio, they won’t have to.
Laubacher & Co. Fully Supports the Enactment of Senate Bill 177
At Laubacher & Co., we commend the Ohio legislature and Governor Kasich on passing Senate Bill 177. As attorneys who represent victims of domestic violence, we know just how important this law is to victims and their pets. If you are living in an abusive situation and fear for the safety of your animals, we can now make sure that both you and your pets receive the protection you deserve.
Contact a Domestic Violence Attorney at Laubacher & Co. to Get Help Today
Laubacher & Co.’s domestic violence attorneys provide vigorous representation for domestic violence victims in Ohio. We have followed the legislative activity on Senate Bill 177 closely, and we are fully prepared to use its protections to help our clients. To get the help you need to for yourself and your pets, please contact us today for a free consultation. Evening and weekend appointments are available.