New allowance for protection orders to cover pets

A protection order now can be extended to include coverage of pets.

Pets can now be covered in filings for protective orders, following the passage of a new law.

YWCA advocates see this as a way to help get domestic violence survivors out of a dangerous situation.

According to the new bill, a protection order may include an order of possession of the pet where appropriate, as well as any funds needed to cover medical costs resulting from abuse of the pet.

Orders can be granted to prevent someone from committing or threatening abuse against an animal.

Hannah Williams, a community outreach specialist for the YWCA, said this will assist in planning with a domestic violence survivor if that person is staying in a situation because she or he fears animals will be abused.

"The co-occurrence of domestic violence and animal abuse is actually pretty common. I think it says like 46% of women are in fear of their animals being mistreated or abused during their relationship, and that's why it keeps them from seeking shelter," she said. "We've noticed the more that we've worked with the spotlight on pet abuse and domestic violence and the co-occurrence of it, we're noticing a lot more people are in need of that service."

Now, Williams is working to make this option easy to navigate for survivors. She covers Region H, which consists of 15 counties with only four domestic violence shelters. And not all of those are able to house animals.

"We can allow service animals or emotional support animals, but if they just have the animal without the credentials, we can't house them," Williams said. "So it's a really big deal. So what I've been working on is trying to get a housing option for the people that are fleeing that have a pet that's not certified."

Options being worked out include a foster program or working with animal shelters locally and in Kansas City. Williams said each situation is different, but the YWCA is prepared to help figure out a way to assist any survivor.

"Our advocates are equipped to safely plan with you through every step of the way," she said.

For more information, visit the YWCA website at ywcasj.org or contact the crisis hotline at 800-653-1477.

Morgan Riddell can be reached at morgan.riddell@newspressnow.com

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