On Tuesday, January 8, Senator Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and Senator Bill Stanley (R-Franklin County) jointly filed SB 1276 to expand the current domestic violence statute to include the torture or murder of any pet animal with the intent to threaten, coerce, or terrorize a family or household member.
“It is shocking, but domestic abusers often use companion animals as part of their arsenal of abuse. Pets are frequently the only support system victims have, and abusers exploit this relationship to inflict lasting emotional damage and manipulate victims into staying in dangerous relationships, extending the devastating cycle of abuse.” said Senator Ebbin (D-Alexandria.)
Senator Stanley stated, “As a lawyer I have unfortunately seen far too often individuals who are determined to get revenge on a former partner by doing serious physical harm to that person’s dog or cat. This legislation that Sen. Ebbin and I are proposing strengthens law enforcement’s ability to hold accountable those who take their frustrations about a failed relationship out on an innocent animal. I firmly believe that punishing such actions as a serious crime will not only prevent unnecessary violence to companion animals, but also will help to stop the intended psychological damage to the people who own and love these animals. I am proud to stand with my good friend Senator Ebbin on this piece of legislation”
“The current definition of domestic violence is simply too limited in its scope. Introducing this legislation will expand protections for victims of domestic violence, and give our law enforcement the a greater ability to prevent tragedies like that of DaSheria Barksdale, who was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend in Alexandria on September 14, 2017 after he repeatedly assaulted her pets in an attempt to keep her in an abusive relationship” said Senator Ebbin.
The legislation is endorsed by Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, the Alexandria Police Department, and the Alexandria Domestic Violence Program.
“Law enforcement has long recognized the connection between cruelty to animals and other violent offenses against people in our communities. This proposed legislation will help us better protect our communities by stopping the tragic consequences that often start with individuals hurting helpless animals” said Michael L. Brown, Chief of Police in the City of Alexandria.
“Historically abusers have used animal cruelty and threats to injure animals as a tactic to exert power and control over a victim. For years advocates have heard cruel and despicable acts that abusers have done to family pets and other animals” said Alexandria Domestic Violence Program representatives Debra Evans and Barbara Sweeney.
“This proposed amendment will impose harsher penalties on those who commit violence upon animals, as well as those who abuse animals as a form of committing violence upon other people, and if enacted, will help make the state a safer place for its human and animal residents.” said Stella Hanly, Chief Operating Officer, Animal Welfare League of Alexandria