Success! Pets of Domestic Violence Victims Are Now Legally Protected

Victims of domestic violence often stay in an abusive relationships because they are terrified to leave. A beloved pet may provide comfort as they flee intimate partner violence, but until recently only 3 percent of battered women’s shelters allowed pets.

But the Pets and Women Safety Act (PAWS), which allows victims of abuse to keep their pets with them, was designed to change all that. Introduced in 2014, the bill had the goal of protecting “victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence from emotional and psychological trauma caused by acts of violence or threats of violence against their pets.”

PAWS sounded like a great idea, but by 2017 the bill still hadn’t become law. That’s why Kelsey B. started a Care2 petition demanding that Congress take action to support this important act. She wrote:

Can you imagine the trauma of leaving an abusive relationship and being forced to leave your beloved pet with your abuser? This piece of legislation would allow more shelters to help women and their pets.

Care2 members responded immediately, and the petition garnered an amazing 231,646 signatures.


With the pressure from this Care2 petition, along with the support of a number of organizations – including the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society — the PAWS act was signed into law as part of the Farm Bill on December 20, 2018. 

This is a great example of the power of activists working together and of never giving up, even if takes a long time to achieve success.

Congratulations to Kelsey B. and to all the Care2 activists who signed her petition, proving that we can make a difference, no matter how unlikely the odds seem to be.

Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced the legislation into the Senate, stating: 

Survivors of domestic violence should never have to decide between leaving an abusive relationship or staying and risking their safety to protect their pets. This bill will help ensure more safe havens for survivors and their pets are available – so together they can begin a new chapter in their lives.

According to The Cut:

The PAWS Act will expand federal protections for domestic violence victims to include their pets, and will establish a federal grant program to assist victims in finding safe shelter for their animals. The act will also create an amendment to the definition of stalking to include “conduct that causes a person to experience a reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury to his or her pet.”

In addition, the legislation mandates that the full amount of the victim’s expenses for restitution related to domestic violence and stalking offenses must also include all costs for veterinary services necessary for the care of the victim’s pet.

This is a huge win both for survivors of domestic violence and for their pets. No woman should have to make the unbearable choice between leaving to seek safety and staying in an abusive situation in order to protect her pet.

Are you inspired by Kelsey B’s success? Do you have a cause you want to pursue? Join your fellow Care2 users by learning how to create your own petition and make your voice heard today!


Photo Credit: Getty Images


Holly H
Holly H8 days ago

This is great news. We all know that beaters thrive on the.perceived power and control they hold over their victims. We know that power hungry highly insecure wife beaters relish the.notion of using threats of harm to his victim's beloved pet as a means to force compliance. This new legislation will make take away some of his power to make good on those threats (oh how beaters hate it when their power gets curtailed. I thoroughly LOVE IT)

Leopold Marek
Leopold Marek16 days ago


Leopold Marek
Leopold Marek16 days ago


Holly Holverxon
Holly Holverxonabout a month ago

This is fantastic. Thank you Kelsey B

Sophie A
Sarah A2 months ago

Thank you for sharing

ANA MARIJA R2 months ago

Made my Monday morning 💕shared with thanks

Jeramie D
Jeramie D2 months ago

Our pets are everything

Mia B
Melisa B2 months ago


Ann B
Ann B2 months ago


Beryl L
Beryl Ludwig2 months ago

Good story