Nebraska bill would add household pets to protection orders

Data shows domestic abusers go after animals
A new bill aims to add protections for pets
Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 5:23 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - ASPCA data shows one in four people go back to an abusive relationship for their pet.

LB11 aims to help with that by putting pets on protection orders.

One woman told 6 News of her own domestic abuse experience.

“I know this sounds terrible, but I would rather be killed than my animals hurt again,” said Meredith Roach.

Roach lived in Nebraska with her dog, Dozer, and her cat, Katniss. She said her abuser would hurt her and her pets.

“I had to tell him what I would want the consequences to be. And sometimes there would be a countdown until I could give him an answer. And if I wasn’t able to answer him, then he would beat Dozer in the head,” she said.

She reached out to ShelterMe Nebraska for help. The local nonprofit fosters pets while people look for a safe place to stay.

Sam Franklin, a survivor of domestic abuse herself, founded the organization in 2014. She personally fostered Roach’s pets and helped her find a domestic abuse shelter.

“She gave us her dog first because he had been beaten badly, and she was trying to get out but she got her dog out first. And so we took Dozer, and we provided safe shelter for him. And then a couple of days later, she called us and said she had been abused and her cat had been abused. And we immediately jumped in to help her and her cat,” said Franklin.

During the process of leaving an abusive relationship, people can file protection orders -- but pets are not an option for them.

LB11 was introduced by State Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue. The bill would explicitly put pets on protection orders and allow police to arrest if someone is in violation.

Franklin also testified at the hearing last Friday.

“LB11 would have really helped Meredith a lot. She would’ve been able to escape a lot sooner with her pets,” said Franklin.

At the hearing, no one testified in opposition. However, the Nebraska State Bar Association does oppose the bill in its current state.

A representative for the Nebraska State Bar Association said they are working with Senator Blood’s team to change some legal language in the bill.