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New bill would protect pets in domestic violence situations

A woman is outdoors holding her pet cat.

Domestic violence is not a new issue for Utah, but Utah Humane Society advocacy director Rachel Heatley said recent years have made the problem even worse.

“The isolation of COVID-19 really kind of brought to light how expansive the problem of domestic violence is here in Utah, and along with that came the stories of of animal cruelty in these situations as well,” Heatley said.

People facing domestic violence often deal with partners who hurt things that are meaningful to them, including their pets. Heatley and others decided to take action, and Utah Rep. Angela Romero said she was there to help.

“I know so many people who their pets are their world, you know,” Romero said. “And so I want to make sure that I'm providing that security for a lot of these individuals trying to leave that situation.”

Rep. Romero has sponsored the Protection of Animal Amendments bill for the 2022 Legislative Session. The bill allows people to add their pets to protective orders when they are leaving an abusive relationship. Heatley said the policy is really just about helping people.

“It sounds so sterile, pets and protection orders,” Heatley said. “Or for folks that maybe aren't big fans of animal welfare they’re kind of like, ‘why are we talking about pets?’ It's not just pets, right? We're talking about keeping pets safe to keep people safe.”

Rep. Romero said she is trying to do just that.

“If I can make a difference in one person's life, and I can make sure that I protect them, and their furry loved one, then I've done my job as a policymaker,” Romero said.

The bill is currently on the House 3rd readings calendar.

Emma Feuz is a senior at Utah State University majoring in broadcast journalism with minors in sociology and political science. She grew up in Evanston, Wyoming where, just like Utah State, the sagebrush also grows. Emma found her love of writing at an early age and slowly discovered her interest in all things audio and visual throughout her years in school. She is excited to put those passions to use at UPR. When school isn't taking up her time, Emma loves longboarding, cheering on the Denver Broncos, and cleaning the sink at Angies.