PAWS Act Signed into Law, Protecting Human and Animal Victims of Domestic Violence


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The PAWS Act was finally signed into law, supporting victims of domestic abuse who happen to call a pet a member of their family. Up to 65 percent of domestic violence victims remain in abusive situations out of fear for their pets’ safety. The goal is to offer alternatives for people “stuck” in abusive circumstances. We know that when there’s violence within a home, often the pets are abused as well. The PAWS Act protects pets and people – but it is only a start. 

What follows is a press release regarding the bill’s signing on December 20.  

Today’s signing into law of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill) marks an important milestone in efforts made by Purina and others to reshape the way domestic violence victims and their pets are cared for in the United States.  The newly enacted PAWS Act, included in the bill, received bi-partisan Congressional support and will serve to bridge gaps in services to make more domestic violence shelters pet friendly and provide safe accommodations for victim’s pets through new grants.

“Passage of the PAWS Act serves as an important recognition by Congress of the incredible bond we share with our pets and the need to keep pets and people together, especially in times of crisis,” said Nina Leigh Krueger, President of Purina. “This bi-partisan legislation builds on a foundation set by organizations across the U.S. that have long advocated for more resources to care for all the victims of domestic violence, including those with four paws.”

Research suggests that nearly half of domestic violence victims remain in abusive situations out of fear for their pets’ safety while only three percent of domestic violence shelters in the US allow pets, making the lack of access to pet-friendly domestic violence services a critical barrier to escaping abuse. As part of the PAWS Act Coalition Purina has been working alongside other for-profit and non-profit organizations to advocate for more and better protections and services for domestic violence victims and their pets.

For more than five years, Purina has supported the trailblazing work of Urban Resource Institute, a leading provider of domestic violence shelters and services.

In New York City, which established PALS (People and Animals Living Safely) in 2013 to provide co-living options for families and their pets escaping abuse. Purina has provided financial support to create Purina Pet Havens in several URI domestic violence shelters and continues to provide nutritious complete and balanced Purina pet food for pet survivors along with treats, beds, leashes, toys and other essentials to help the pets feel welcomed and safe.

This fall, URI celebrated the grand opening of PALS Place, the nation’s first ever 100 percent pet-friendly domestic violence shelter. URI architects and Purina pet behaviorists and designers collaborated throughout the planning process to ensure that every aspect of PALS Place is as welcoming, safe, and healthy as possible for families and their pets adjusting to life in the shelter. This includes everything from choosing paint colors that are pleasing to pets’ eyes to selecting pet-friendly flooring, wall coatings, furniture, lighting, and window screens.

In Purina’s hometown of St. Louis, earlier this year, nearly 75 employee volunteers helped convert two apartments of Lydia’s House to be pet-friendly and worked to create a dog park for survivors and their pets to spend time together privately and safely. Lydia’s House is Missouri’s largest provider of safety and resources to the women and children in the St. Louis area who are victims of domestic violence.

In 2019, Purina will expand its commitment to keeping pets and people together nationally to help more domestic violence shelters across the U.S. become pet-friendly. For more information about Purina’s commitment to keeping pets and people together, visit Purina.com/HealTogether.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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