Pet Protection From Abuse Orders


A few weeks back I wrote a blog post on pet custody, specifically Pennsylvania HB 1108, you can read it by clicking here. A bill that falls in the same general category of pets in family law is HB 1210. It deals with animal abuse in domestic violence situations.

This bill was introduced on January 20, 2023, by Representative Christina Sappey of Chester County and Representative Natalie Mihalek of Allegheny County. This bill allows a court, as part of a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Petition, to grant temporary ownership of a “companion animal,” read pet, to a petitioner and also to order a PFA defendant to refrain from possessing, contacting, attempting to contact, transferring, relocating the pet or entering the property of any person sheltering the pet.

I question whether this legislation is necessary in that the definition of “abuse” in the PFA statute is intentionally broad such that it can cover transposed anger and violence directed to a pet to intimidate its owner.

The co-sponsorship memorandum prepared by the bill’s two sponsors talks about how perpetrators of the domestic violence also target pets and that there is a link between coercive behavior and abuse of pets. This certainly makes sense; however, does this justify expanding the statute?

HB 1210 passed the State House on July 6, 2023, by a vote of 130 to 73. A slightly wider majority than the pet custody bill, HB 1108. The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee and based on the information I have available to me no action is scheduled in the State Senate on this bill at the present time. Feel strongly either way? Contact your state senator.

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