PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A bill aimed at protecting pets from abusers is working its way through the Rhode Island State House.
Rep. William O’Brien’s legislation would expand Family Court jurisdiction to enter protective orders to provide for the safety and welfare of household pets in domestic abuse situations.
“Now they can immediately put it in the protective order that the pet goes with the victim,” Rep. O’Brien said.
Under current law, after a restraining order is filed a family court judge can only rule on the custody of a shared pet once the divorce is finalized. In abusive situations this means the animal could be left in a dangerous home for months.
“I have my rescue dog Frankie, and he’s part of my family and I can’t imagine leaving him in a situation like that,” O’Brien said.
The bill has already passed in the Senate, and sister legislation was approved by the House last week. O’Brien expects the bill to be signed into law by Governor Gina Raimondo within the next two weeks.