State and Federal Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Protect Pets From Domestic Violence
HERNANDO – There are stiff penalties in Florida for those who commit domestic violence and lawmakers are continually introducing new legislation to broaden the spectrum of what is considered a domestic related crime.
Currently there are criminal statutes that cover couples who live together, are married, or are simply dating, but there are also civil implications for individuals accused of harming a pet or even threatening to harm a pet.
In 2012, then-Florida Republican Senator Mike Fasano introduced twin bills aimed at creating an animal abuse registry and the inclusion of pets as victims of domestic violence but both initiatives failed to pass. However, a second round of legislation was introduced last week by Democrat Representatives Jared Moskowitz and David Richardson, and surprisingly, Republican Representative Blaise Ingoglia, who hope to pass HB 871, a proposed animal abuse registry.
In a statement released by the House Majority Office, Ingoglia stated “Today (February 20th 2017), Representatives Moskowitz, Richardson, and I are pleased to file HB 871 in an effort to reduce the sales of pets to individuals who have been convicted of animal abuse. The creation of an animal abuse registry will work similar to the sexual offender registry in that it will empower pet dealers and adoption agencies in knowing their customer.”
“People who have been convicted of animal abuse shouldn’t be sold more animals,” Representative Jared Moskowitz said. “Making this data available as a resource to pet dealers is a common sense and transparent solution that ensures the safety of Florida’s animals.”
“We look forward to widespread bipartisan support for legislation that will reduce the level of cruelty and abuse of animals in the state of Florida,” said Representative David Richardson. “After speaking with many constituents about these issues we recognize the significant value of moving forward with reforms. I look forward to working on this legislation with my colleagues.”
Similar legislation is currently under debate in the U.S. House of Representative to pass the Clark Bill. A bill Introduced by U.S. Representative Katherine Clark (D) of Massachusetts that would provide more protection for women and their pets who seek refuge in a domestic violence shelter.
Dawn Center, a Hernando based domestic violence shelter for women and children has already broken ground for a new pet kennel, according to a recent social media post, and they say if the PAWS (Pets and Women Safety Act) passes, there will be an additional $3 million in federal funding available for upkeep, staffing, and supplies.
It should be noted that Florida Representative Blaise Ingoglia sits as an Ex Officio Board Member for Dawn Center.
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