Al Nye, the author of the Maine Divorce Law Blog, recently reported about a new law in Maine that allows judges in Protection From Abuse cases to include pets in the order. As reported in the Press Herald, the law would allow judges to include the pets of those who have been battered so that the person leaving can take the pet with them or else come back to the residence and retrieve the animal. Police and others think that it’s not unusual for abusers to harm or threaten to harm pets. It can be another method of keeping someone from leaving an abusive relationship. The law allows fines or jail time for violators and goes into effect in 90 days.
I have recently learned of a resource in the Atlanta area called Ahimsa House, which is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation that provides shelter and aid to animals caught in the cycle of domestic violence. Ahimsa House is the first and only shelter of its kind in Georgia.
The word ahimsa means nonviolence in Sanskrit.
Ahimsa House exists to help save the animal victims of domestic violence. There are many shelters for human domestic violence victims in Georgia, but Ahimsa House is the only domestic violence shelter for animals in this state.
Abusers hit, kick, throw, torture, and kill the family pets in an effort to terrorize the family and keep them silent about the abuse in their home. Concern for a beloved companion animal’s welfare prevents or delays more than 50% of battered individuals from escaping domestic abuse, continuing to endanger themselves, their children, and their pets. Their concerns are legitimate: it is estimated that 88% of animals in households where mental and physical abuse takes place, the family pet is injured or killed when the victim tries to leave.
Ahimsa House, Inc., assists victims of abuse by providing a safe haven for their companion animals so that they do not have to worry about their safety and well being. Ahimsa House works with law enforcement agencies, domestic violence shelters, and counseling agencies in metro Atlanta and Athens to assist both the human and animal victims. Women, children, and their beloved pets are reunited after approximately 65 days.