Domestic Violence Against Family Pets Protection Bill Introduced in FL

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Sen. Mike Fasano, who filed the Dexter’s Law animal abuser registry bill, also introduced SB 288 which will grant pets the same protection from domestic violence, if passed, as people.

Florida State Senator Mike Fasano is a friend to animals, and works to protect their interests within his home state in his capacity as senator. Two of this bills he has introduced into the 2012 session, begun this week, will provide them with greater protection under state law, if passed.

The Dexter’s Law animal abuser registry bill is well known and has received international attention, due to the widespread following the Brooksville kitten garnered after his brutal beating at a playground last June. Dexter ultimately succumbed to his injuries but his name and memory live on in the registry bill.

The Domestic Violence Against Family Pets bill also has a face. It is inspired by the story of Little Horatio, a sweet dog who stood between his petmom and her abusive adult son as the grown man came after her. The son beat Horatio (the name he goes by now) so badly that the dog, now rescued and in a good home, developed such a severe light sensitivity that he has to wear goggles when he goes outside. The son is in prison on charges relating to his abuse of his mother, the mother is safe, and Horatio is happy and safe. Horatio’s abuse occurred about five years ago.

Horatio’s former owner was too ashamed to tell anyone, including her other sons about what was going on. The abusive son used Horatio to manipulate her in order to gain her money and posessionsThe woman finally walked for miles to report him and to get help.

“We later found out that Little Horatio laid over his owner and took blows by her son and protected this woman from the blows of the son,” explained former victim advocate, Jan Occhiolini. “Abusers use them to manipulate their families to keep them in the house.  They will either threaten or hurt them or they will torture and abuse them,” said Kathy Cornwell, who also worked on the case.

Senator Fasano has said, “It sends a strong message, I think, to my colleagues and myself that there’s more to domestic violence, there’s another area here we have to address.” In reference to abusers, he added, “We don’t want them to abuse an animal in order to get after their victim and those sick individuals, when they can no longer get to the victim, to their wife or their girlfriend or their child, they will then start going after the animal, the dog, the cat.”

We know all too well that cats are a favorite target of abusive boyfriends, husbands and sons as they terrorize the women and children in their lives. Not a week goes by that we do not read of violent horrors that most readers would prefer not to know about. If this bill passes it will create a monumental change in the status and protection of cats and other domestic animals.

The bill offers protection from abuse and the threat of abuse. It reads as follows:

SB 288: Domestic Violence Against Family Pets

Domestic Violence Against Family Pets; Providing that a court may issue an injunction for protection against domestic violence granting the petitioner the exclusive care, custody, or control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by the petitioner, the respondent, or a minor child residing in the residence or household of the petitioner or respondent; providing that it is a first-degree misdemeanor for a person to willfully violate an injunction for protection against domestic violence by knowingly and intentionally injuring or threatening to injure any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by the petitioner, the respondent, or a minor child of the petitioner or respondent; providing criminal penalties, etc.

If passed, the bill will take effect on July 12, 2012.

Senator Fasano introduced the same bill to the 2011 session, where it did not pass. This year the bill has received a great deal of support from organizations, businesses and individuals. National organizations putting their support behind the bill include the ASPCA and HSUS. We spoke with Sen. Fasano’s aide Greg Giordano, who is well acquainted with the effort bring this important protection into law. He said that proponents are pleased with the outpouring of support for the both the Dexter’s Law animal abuser registry bill and the Domestic Voilence Against family Pets bill, but, in order for them to pass, Florida residents need to let their local representatives know that they want the two measures to become law.

The 2012 legislative session begun stis week runs for 6o days, so the fate of the two bills will be known before long.


The following news video from December 2010 highlights Horatio’s role in providing a face to the domestic violence protection bill.

6 thoughts on “Domestic Violence Against Family Pets Protection Bill Introduced in FL”

  1. I want to do anything I can in order to. get the word out! Thank you Senator Fasano for your work with these bills!

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