FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 16, 2023
Jenna Hynek, Legal Aid of Nebraska, Communications Manager
Domestic Abuse Survivors Can Now Get Protection Orders for Their Pets
Under a new Nebraska law, survivors of domestic violence will now be able to obtain protection orders for their household pets. In a study by the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Urban Resource Institute, 66% of respondents said their abuser has threatened to or already had harmed or killed their pet, while 97% said keeping their pets with them is an important factor in deciding on whether to seek shelter. In response to this issue, the Nebraska Legislature has changed the law on Domestic Abuse Protection Orders.
Now, in addition to orders directing the abuser to stay away from the survivor and the survivor’s residence, courts can order that household pets be placed in the sole possession of the person petitioning the court for protection. Furthermore, the court can order the abuser to have no contact with the pet. These orders can remain in effect for so long as the Protection Order is in place.
In 2022, one in eight Legal Aid of Nebraska clients disclose being survivors of abuse. Pat Carraher, Director of the Children and Families Unit at Legal Aid of Nebraska, said this new law will provide needed assistance to victims of domestic violence.
“Over the years, we have seen many cases in which a perpetrator of domestic violence uses the threat of taking or abusing family pets as a way to control and manipulate survivors,” Carraher said. “We are hopeful that this law will take away of one the tools of manipulation, as well as protect household pets.”
The new law goes into effect September 1, 2023.
If you are in need of assistance, please contact Legal Aid of Nebraska’s Statewide AccessLine at 1-877-250-2016 (hours: Monday/Wednesday 8:30-11:30 a.m. and Tuesday/Thursday 1-3 p.m.). More information about Legal Aid’s services can be found at LegalAidofNebraska.org.
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Legal Aid of Nebraska was established in 1963 and is the largest statewide non-profit civil legal aid provider in Nebraska, providing free high-quality services to low-income Nebraskans in all 93 counties. Legal Aid’s mission is, “to promote justice, dignity, hope and self-sufficiency through quality civil legal aid for those who have nowhere else to turn.” Legal Aid has offices in Lincoln, Omaha, North Platte, Norfolk, Grand Island, Scottsbluff and Bancroft.