By Gabrielle Chung
Lawmakers in Missouri have passed a piece of legislation that would allow added protections to domestic violence survivors and their pets.
Under SB 71, which was passed on Monday, judges will have the option to include pets in protection orders against domestic abusers.
Additionally, judges can grant restraining orders for a longer period of time and include a provision that the order will be automatically renewed, refraining domestic violence survivors from having to appear in court in order to obtain an extension.
The person with the restraining order against them would have to show “proof of treatment and rehabilitation” and that they no longer pose a serious threat in order for the protection order be lifted early, according to the measure.
“The full order may be renewed annually for a period of at least 180 days and not more than one year from the expiration date of the previously issued order; except, in cases where the court finds the respondent poses a serious danger to the petitioner or a minor household member, then the order may be renewed periodically and shall be valid for at least two years and up to the life of the respondent.”
If signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson, the measure will go into effect on Aug. 28, 2021.
“Victims of domestic violence should not have to live in constant fear of their abuser’s retaliation, their beloved pet being harmed or having to re-appear in court multiple times to renew the same order of protection,” Republican Sen. Elaine Gannon, who sponsored the bill, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“I hope this new law will empower victims to seek protection and enable families to recover from the trauma of domestic abuse,” Gannon added.
According to research from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (ASPCA), 25 percent of domestic violence survivors have reported returning to an abusive partner out of concern for their pet.
Furthermore, one third of domestic violence survivors said they hesitated to seek shelter out of concern for their pet, while 50 percent of pet-owning women entering domestic violence shelters reported that their abusers threatened, harmed or killed a family pet, according to the organization.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.