By: N Gilbert
For the first time in Massachusetts state history, a dog has been covered by a restraining order to protect him from domestic violence. The dog's owner was granted a restraining order in Plymouth District Court against her violent ex-boyfriend that covers her, her child and her 6-year-old Labrador mix named Panzer.
The 38-year-old Marshfield woman feared for the safety of her family and sought help from a woman's resource centre. She told domestic violence advocates that she feared that her boyfriend might try to take the dog, and she stated that he had already kicked and dragged the dog in the past. Marshfield Animal Control officer Deni Michele Goldman was alerted to the situation and arrangements were made to protect the family.
The restraining order was filed in September, just weeks after Governor Deval Patrick signed an animal protection bill that created a safety net for pets caught in domestic violence situations.
The dog is now in safekeeping at an undisclosed foster family under the care of Marshfield Animal Control. Officer Goldman told the Taunton Daily Gazette, "This new law allows a judge to award the possession of an animal to the victim and to prohibit the accused from abusing, threatening or taking the pet," she said. "This was really good timing."
Goldman said that that more than 70% of abused women report that their batterers have threatened to hurt or kill their pets and have tried to used such threats to coerce battered women into staying or refraining from calling police.
The woman and her 2-year-old son are now staying at a domestic violence shelter out-of-state. Officer Goldman is in touch with Panzer's owner regularly and says that once the woman and her son are settled in a safe place she will be reunited with Panzer.
As the owner of a pet who was also around domestic violence, I can't stress this enough that if you're with someone who is violent, physical or verbal or both, PLEASE consider the feelings of your beloved pet. They see what's going on and they feel the tension. I myself was in a violent relationship and my dog is still somewhat skiddish around people that are yelling. So for yourself and for the sake of your pet, get out of there immediately. Trust me, it will only get worse!