February 8, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Representatives Mimi Walters (R-CA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rick Nolan (D-MN), Jeff Denham (R-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), along with 176 colleagues in the U.S. House reintroduced the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, bicameral, bipartisan legislation to protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence from emotional and psychological trauma caused by violence against their pets. Multiple studies have shown that domestic abusers often seek to manipulate or intimidate their victims by threatening or harming their pets, but according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), only three percent of domestic violence shelters across the country accept pets. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Dean Heller (R-NV) led the reintroduction of the legislation in the U.S. Senate.

“Individuals in abusive relationships should not be subjected to further torment by having their pet be used as a pawn,” said Representative Walters. “I’m proud to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the Capitol to ensure survivors of domestic violence have the resources they need to escape dangerous situations and rebuild their lives.”                                                                                                                                  

The PAWS Act expands existing federal domestic violence protections to include threats or acts of violence against a victim’s pet, and provides grant funding to programs that offer shelter and housing assistance for domestic violence victims with pets. The bill also requires the full amount of the victim's losses for purposes of restitution in domestic violence and stalking offenses to include any costs incurred for veterinary services relating to physical care for the victim's pet.

The PAWS Act is supported by the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Humane Society of the United States, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the National Link Coalition, the Sheltering Animals & Families Together (SAF-T) Program, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Animal Welfare Institute, RedRover, the National Animal Care & Control Association, the National District Attorneys Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, YWCA USA, the American Kennel Club, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the National Sheriffs’ Association.