WEST CHESTER (September 15) – State Senator Andy Dinniman will be joined by Rachel Haynes-Pinsker of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) for a community discussion on the connection between domestic violence and violence against pets and animals on Monday, September 19th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the East Whiteland Township Building 

“Study after study has demonstrated the direct link between violence against animals and violence against people,” Dinniman said. “We know that those who harm animals are likely to harm people. It’s time that we tighten our laws and raise the penalties to better protect both our pets and our families.”

Pinsker will open the discussion with an overview of the issue, which impacts a startling number of victims of domestic violence. Dinniman will then provide an update on his Senate Bill 594, the Pet Protection from Domestic Abuse Act, legislation that calls for strengthening Pennsylvania’s Animal Cruelty Law to increase the penalty when animal abuse happens in a domestic-violence situation.

The bill unanimously passed the Senate and is now on final consideration in the House.

According to a Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Welfare (FIREPAW) study, up to 48% of domestic violence victims have delayed leaving a dangerous situation because they fear for their pet’s safety. Figures provided by the Humane Society of the United States show that those fears are not unfounded, reporting that approximately one million animals are killed or abused in connection to domestic violence each year.

Dinniman and Pinsker, who serves as Legal Services Manager for PCADV, recently participated in a presentation titled “The Connection between Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse,” at the Pennsylvania Bar Association Animal Law Conference in Philadelphia.

Pinsker, who has provided 15 years of legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, said that in her experience, abusers often lash out at companion animals of their victims as a way to gain more control.

“The more isolated a domestic violence victim becomes, the more attached they are to their pet. Often, an abuser becomes jealous of this attachment and punishes the animal as another form of abuse toward their victim,” Pinsker said.

Dinniman noted that there have been numerous examples of an estranged spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend (who is under a protection from abuse order from a former partner) will get back at that individual by hurting or killing their pet in order to inflict emotional harm.

“The latest research reaffirms what many pet owners or animal lovers already know. Not only is there a direct correlation between how we treat animals and each other, but many domestic violence victims fear for their pet’s safety,” Dinniman said. “We need to work to protect victims and their pets. One’s attachment to and concern for a beloved pet shouldn’t serve as an obstacle to getting out of an abusive situation.”

pet-423398_1920Dinniman will also discuss support of a program for domestic violence shelters and organizations to provide shelter to victims’ pets. He said plans to support and work with local organizations, like the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County, to help ensure that a victims’ pet could be provided with temporary shelter or foster care rather than be left to potentially suffer the consequences.

“Bringing the right people together within a community is the best way to work towards a solution and get things done,” Dinniman said. “The services, resources, and support are here. It’s just a matter of aligning them to solve this problem.”

The East Whiteland Township building is located at 209 Conestoga Road in Frazer.

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