CONCORD — The House on Wednesday quickly passed a bill that would include pets and domesticated animals under the state’s domestic violence protection statute.
The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee had recommended that the bill pass on a vote of 14-2. The full House passed it on a voice vote without debate. It now moves to the state Senate.
Rep. Robert Cushing, R-Hampton, wrote for the committee majority that the bill would permit protective orders for stalking and domestic violence to include the protection of pets and domestic animals.
According to Cushing, the bill would allow a court to grant custody of a pet to a victim of domestic violence and to issue an order ensuring the alleged abuser “not be permitted to abuse or dispose of the animal.”
Cushing wrote that the committee heard from advocates for victims of domestic violence, veterinarians, law enforcement officials, “animal lovers” and court officers that abusers often “take their anger out, or attempt to intimidate or scare victims by harming a favorite pet.”
The minority of the committee said the bill was unnecessary because cruelty to animals is already a crime.