By Associated Press - Monday, February 24, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Pets would be better protected in domestic abuse cases under a bill approved Monday by the Iowa Senate.

The Senate unanimously voted to approve the measure that would allow the inclusion of pets in domestic abuse protective orders. By including pets in such orders, the hope is that victims would be more likely to escape an abusive situation without the fear that a family pet would be abused as a result. The legislation now goes to the House.

Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, who sponsored the bill, said it would protect pets while also encouraging domestic abuse victims to leave dangerous situations more quickly.

Petersen said oftentimes abusers use pets as a means of psychologically controlling their victims and coercing them to stay in violent situations.

The legislation would give victims more control by granting them exclusive care of the animals within the domestic abuse protective order.

If lawmakers don’t take action, the safety of pets will continue to be used against domestic abuse victims, Petersen said.

“As legislators, we want to do all we can to ensure Iowa families are living in safe homes free from violence,” she said.

Livestock or other animals meant for commercial use are excluded in the legislation.

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