Pets of domestic violence victims in New South Wales (NSW) will now have greater protection from abuse under new laws, which states that companion animals will be also be protected when a domestic violence order is granted.
NSW Attorney-General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Mark Speakman said the protection of pets will now be a condition of an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) after reforms passed parliament last November.
“Perpetrators often use animals to coerce or control victims, threatening to hurt or kill pets to keep them in a relationship or as punishment for leaving,” Speakman said in a statement on Monday.
“This cruelty and manipulation can leave victims terrified of the consequences for their beloved animals and can therefore delay or prevent them from leaving a violent situation. These reforms aim to help guard against this abhorrent form of abuse,” he said.
Chief of Domestic Violence NSW Delia Donovan said that perpetrators hold pets hostage to gain control, with threats to kill or hurt animals.
“These reforms are essential to improving the safety of people experiencing domestic violence, and we wholeheartedly support them,” Donovan said.
RSPCA NSW CEO Steve Coleman said that it was a long-delayed move from the state government and that animals in domestic violence situations have not been given the recognition they deserved for too long.
“We are pleased to see the changes and the opportunity for more services to be equipped to support people and help animals live free from violence and abuse,” Coleman said.
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.