Aislinn (far left) and Bob (far right) at the signing of the Pet Protection Bill.
This past session the Alliance played an integral role in passing SB 71, legislation which the National Link Coalition has stated “may be the nation’s most comprehensive law allowing courts to include household pets in orders of protection.” Such orders are sought by Missourians who are needing protection against “acts, attempts or threats to him or her from a family or household member or intimate partner; or from acts of stalking or sexual assault.” However, historically not allowing pets on the orders has caused significant issues for pets as well as their guardians.
Violence in the home impacts all members of the family. 71% of pet owners entering domestic violence shelters report that their batterer had threatened, injured, or killed family pets. In one study of survivors, 48% of respondents reported that animal abuse had occurred “often” during the past 12 months and another 30% reported the abuse occurred “almost always.” The types of animal abuse reported included punching, hitting, choking, drowning, shooting, stabbing, and throwing the animal against a wall or down the stairs.
It is important to understand that in domestic violence situations, the abuser is profoundly focused on controlling their victim. Animal abuse is a tool of domestic violence – threats of or actual harm to a pet is a means of control and a form of emotional violence. The abuser is saying: “this could happen to you” or “next time, it will be you.” Animals become pawns in the environment of family violence.
Sometimes when an order of protection is obtained the abuser will attempt to maintain control of the victim by involving the victim’s beloved pet. They might threaten the pet or attempt to get possession of the pet. Oftentimes the fear of the abuser obtaining possession of the pet is enough for the victim to stay with the abuser, so that they can watch over the pet and attempt to ensure their safety. Up to 40% of women will stay in an abusive relationship because they cannot take their pet.
However, SB 71 makes it clear that pets can be placed on orders of protection and are off limits for threats or acts of violence. It even goes a step further and also assigns possession of the animal to the victim. This means that the victim can leave the abuser without fear of the abuser using the legal system to take their pet away. It is true that some abusers will violate orders of protection. However, with pets being allowed on these orders the abuser can be better held accountable for their actions if that happens.
We would like to thank Alliance supporter and former domestic abuse prosecutor, Tali Katz, for her assistance in drafting this legislation!
We also wish to extend a special thanks to the courageous women who were victims of domestic violence and who came forward to testify in support of SB 71. One such witness was particularly compelling as she had not only suffered serious physical injuries at the hands of her abuser but her beloved dog was killed by the abuser.

If you find yourself in a situation where you question the treatment of an animal, or the conditions, or maybe you're wondering about helping wildlife or assisting in a rescue, or you have witnessed something that needs to be reported - go to our website because chances are you will find a number and/or a link that can help address it.

A Great Way to Support the Alliance
With so many people shopping online these days, you can now support the Alliance each time you make a purchase on Amazon. Click here or on the icon. Once you've identified "Missouri Alliance for Animals" as your charitable organization of choice, a portion of your purchase will be donated by Amazon to the Alliance each time you shop on Amazon! What a great way to contribute!