CARSON CITY — A state Senate panel voted Monday for a bill that would allow courts to take action against domestic abusers who try to harass their partners by hurting or even killing family pets or other animals.
Abusing a family pet to terrorize and control other family members is all too common in situations of domestic abuse, said Victoria Van Meter, a Washoe County Family Court master.
“Seeing a beloved family pet tortured or killed has a devastating impact on children and families,” said Van Meter. “Animal cruelty lets the victim and children know just how brutal and lethal the abuser can be.”
In her testimony, Van Meter quoted victim statements in domestic abuse cases that described one abuser who threw a cat against a wall, and another who tried to snap a puppy’s neck.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously for Assembly Bill 282, which would add hurting or killing an animal to a list of behaviors that would enable courts to issue restraining orders. It also would allow a court to specify arrangements for care of any animals owned by the abused party.
The bill, which was passed unanimously by the Assembly two weeks ago, now goes to the Senate for final action.
The bill’s chief sponsor, Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said that when talking to groups about the bill, people regularly approached her with their own stories of domestic animal abuse.
“One woman who was about my age told me very vividly, with tears streaming down her cheeks, about when she was 10 and her stepfather kicked their family dog to death in front of her mother, her brother, and herself,” said Leslie. “As I was working on this bill, I became much more aware that this is very common.”
Animal abuse also can delay women from seeking the help they need, she said.
“This link between animal abuse and control and domestic violence is very, very clear,” Leslie said.2007 Nevada Legislature