VIRGINIA allows domestic violence protective orders to include pets. In addition, federal law includes the crime of stalking and actions that make the victim fear that the stalker will hurt the victim’s pet, service or emotional support animal, or horse (18 U.S.C. § 2261A (2019))
BLUE STATES specifically provide for the inclusion of pets in protective/restraining orders.
GRAY STATES do not specifically address the inclusion of pets in protective/restraining orders.
As per the Animal Legal & Historical Center website1,
Summary: In 2014, Virginia amended its Protective Order laws to grant petitioners possession of any “companion animal,” so long as the petitioner is considered the owner. Companion animals include any family pets, such as dogs, cats, hamsters, etc., but do not include farm animals. To be considered an owner, a petitioner must either have a property interest in the animal, keep or house the animal, have the animal in their care, or have acted as a custodian of the animal. This new provision is now included in Virginia’s Emergency Protective Orders, Preliminary Protective Orders, and Protective Orders. Va. Code Ann.§§ 16.1-253, 16.1-253.1, 16.1-253.4, 16.1-279.1, 19.2-152.8, 19.2-152.9, and 19.2-152.10
If your state does not include pet protection in restraining orders, there may be alternatives that assist your petition in the role animal abuse plays in domestic violence, such as:
- specifying animal cruelty as a behavior to prove why a protective order is needed
- detailing animal abuse or threats against the victim’s pet(s) as part of the abuse, intimidation tactics, or criminal stalking
- giving consent to “cross-report”, ie. animal control sees signs of domestic violence, child abuse, or elder abuse
DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT!
We know you, like all the others, probably already are documenting, but the problem is what and how you document probably doesn’t meet the criteria to be considered evidence in the legal system. The laws are very specific as to what is evidence and what is considered hearsay. And even if it does, if you can’t prove (chain of custody) that your documentation hasn’t been touched, edited, damaged, altered, or deleted, then the defense can argue it doesn’t count!
VictimsVoice can help you document the details that matter to you and matter to the courts.
- Save images safely and legally.
- Learn how to transcribe audio and transcribe video, then safely store it to legal standards.
- Perfect for protective orders, divorce and custody, and criminal cases.
We work to keep you safe and make sure you’re collecting information that the authorities see as court-worthy.
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If you discover any of the above information has changed, is outdated, or is otherwise incorrect before we do, please drop us an email and let us know. Thank you.
*Information in the "Policy" section does not constitute as legal advice. Please consult an attorney for any and all legal advice. (1) Animal Legal & Historical Center, Map of State Laws Allowing Domestic Violence Orders to Include Pets, https://www.animallaw.info/content/map-state-laws-allowing-domestic-violence-orders-include-pets