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New law strengthens domestic violence protection

Claims of family abuse are taken very seriously here in Houston, Texas. Anyone accused of such a crime is investigated and eventually charged with domestic and family violence charges. Even if the victim does not want to press charges, Texas law requires that the local district attorney can decide if the state will press the necessary charges.

The laws are getting even more serious about this growing concern. As part of the state's crusade against this problem, Republican legislators put into law the Pets in Protective Orders Bill, which aims to help victims seek much needed help and shelter in the state. At the same time, the bill will ensure the safety of the victim's pets, preventing the animals from being harmed or taken away by the abusers.

According to experts, there is a close tie that binds domestic violence with pet abuse. The bill gives judges another useful tool to protect not just humans from abusive relationships but their beloved pets as well. One argument raised suggests that a person in an abusive relationship is often afraid to seek refuge for fear that the abuser may threaten to abuse the victim's pet. This new law gives victims the needed assurance that their pets can now be included in any protective orders, giving both protection.

The bill has been introduced in four legislative sessions, according to sources. It was initially introduced in 2007. It passed in 2011 but was deemed non-enforceable by virtue of the language used in the bill. It was later merged with Senate Bill 555 and was passed again on a consent vote in the State Senate. It will become a law on Sept. 1.

State laws on domestic violence in Texas are some of the most advanced and toughest in the country. A first conviction may result in a county jail sentence of up to one year and a $4,000 fine. A second conviction automatically becomes a third-degree felony. This may result in a long-term state penitentiary sentence and much larger fines.

Source: KETK," Law protects domestic violence victims and provides assurances to save pets from potential abuse and death," July 9, 2013

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