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Protecting pets from domestic violence in Illinois

Pets often fall victim to domestic violence when an abuser harms an animal as a way of hurting or threatening a spouse, partner or child. Illinois law provides protection for pets in these situations.
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    December 17, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Illinois is one of a small but growing number of states that have passed laws protecting pets from perpetrators of domestic violence. The Illinois Domestic Violence Act provides for the protection of animals when a victim of domestic violence seeks an order for protection. Until relatively recently, pets were considered property in the context of orders for protection in Illinois, which limited the protections available for animals at risk of being harmed by an abusive individual.

The Illinois Domestic Violence Act provides that a person who files an order for protection against an abuser can be granted sole custody of any pets kept by either party, or by a child residing in the household of either individual. Additionally, when an order for protection is granted, the Illinois law gives judges the right to order the abuser to stay away from the animal, preventing him or her from harming the pet or taking it away.

Why is an order for protection necessary for pets?

According to statistics cited by the Chicago Police Department, as many as three out of four domestic violence victims say their abusers have threatened to hurt their pets. When compared to women who have not experienced domestic violence, women staying at domestic violence shelters are more than 10 times likelier to say that their pets have been hurt or killed by a domestic partner.

People who commit domestic violence against pets often do so in order to indirectly hurt or intimidate a spouse, child or other person who may feel an emotional attachment to the animal. For instance, an abuser may:
- Injure or kill a pet to retaliate against another individual.
- Injure or kill a pet in order to demonstrate a willingness to commit violence against children or other individuals.
- Threaten to harm a pet in order to control another person's behavior.

According estimates from the Animal Humane Society, nearly 1 million animals are hurt or killed each year as a result of domestic violence. Furthermore, research has shown that people who abuse animals are typically more violent and dangerous than those who do not abuse animals.

Seeking an order for protection in Illinois

There are several different types of orders for protection available to people who are faced with domestic violence in Illinois, including both long-term protective orders and short-term emergency protection. It is important to understand that Illinois law allows judges to issue orders for protection even if no actual violence has occurred.

Therefore, if you or a family member is facing threats, stalking, harassment, animal abuse or any other type of domestic violence, don't wait for the situation to escalate before seeking help. A family law attorney with experience in Illinois domestic violence law can help you understand your options and take the steps necessary to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Article provided by Wolfe & Stec, Ltd.
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