Friday, January 04, 2008

Illinois Law Include Animals in Orders of Protection In Relation To Domestic Violence

This law was passed in May, 2007. Incredible steps as typically, those who abuse non-human animals are likely to abuse human animals


Law takes pets under its wing


GENEVA – People are not the only victims of domestic abuse.

A new law that went into effect Tuesday aims to protect pets and animals from domestic violence.

Under the new law, Illinois judges can include animals in orders of protection, just as they would a human being. The bill was passed unanimously in May 2007.

Those working with domestic-violence victims say animal abuse often is a sign of more severe abuse.

“It’s just a short step between animal and person,” said Gretchen Vapnar, executive director of Crisis Community Center, a shelter for domestic-violence victims.

The animal abuse seen at the Crisis Community Center ranges from neglect to direct threats against the animal.

Anna Meier, coordinator for the center’s Batterer Intervention program, said that both victims and abusers reported incidents involving pets.

Often, Meier said, abusers ordinarily would not focus on animals at all.

“It’s generally not a thing where they’d just want to go out and hurt an animal,” Meier said. “It’s part of that power and control.”

Because it has handles situations cases with pets, Crisis Community has an agreement with Anderson Animal Shelter in South Elgin to house the pets of those at the crisis center.

One drawback to the agreement, Meier said, is that the animals can’t be kept indefinitely.

“They’re overcrowded, too, and they can’t always hold the pets,” Meier said.

State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, was one of the sponsors of the bill.

She supports animal rights and said it had become more of a hot-button issue since the recent Michael Vick case.

“You have to protect everybody,” Chapa LaVia said.

Vick, the former member of the Atlanta Falcons football team, was sentenced in December 2007 to 23 months in prison in a case involving animal cruelty and dog fighting.

“Some people may think that’s ridiculous but some people consider their pets members of the family. It’s my job to protect everybody.”

As far as the Kane County Sheriff’s Office is concerned, it doesn’t matter who is included in the order of protection.

“However it’s written up, we have to enforce it,” said Lt. Pat Gengler, spokesman for the department.

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