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)).
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
If you discover any of the above information has changed, is outdated, or is otherwise incorrect before we do, please drop us an email and let us know.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