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Ohio Lawmakers Consider Domestic Violence Protection for Pets

COLUMBUS (Chris Vanocur/Ken Hines) -- Ohio lawmakers are considering a bill that would extend the reach of protection orders to prevent pets from being threatened or harmed during domestic disputes.

Supporters of Senate Bill 177 want court orders issued to provide protection for women to be broadened in an effort to prevent domestic abusers from threatening the safety of household animals to gain control of victims.

"When someone is fleeing abuse, or somebody is in a seriously abusive situation, research shows that often animals are used as a way to control the family members," Senator Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) said.

More than 160 million dogs and cats lived inside American homes in 2010, according to the Humane Society. The animals' presence can complicate an abused partner's decision-making process when considering a separation from their tormenter.

"Basically, people are going back, or not leaving abusers, because of fear over the safety of their animals," S.B. 177 supporter Leslie Ashworth said.

Lawmakers in 24 states have passed similar pieces of legislation.
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