Bill Aims to Protect Pets from Domestic Violence

Maureen Wurtz


When couples fight and attack each other, pets often end up in the middle.

That's why Iowa lawmakers are working to pass a bill that would protect animals during domestic violence situations.

A bill would end joint custody of an animal, and give custody only to the victim of the assault. The abuser would lose custody of the animal with hopes of getting the animal away from violence that could be turned on the pet.

The bill also aims to make it easier for one owner to get custody and make sure the pet has a home, instead of both owners having to give it up.

Genea Stoops has been rescuing animals for years through the animal rescue organization Hooves and Paws.

"They were used for bait for dog fighting," Stoops said about two of the dogs.

"It breaks your heart to think that people would even think of doing that to an animal," Stoops said.

Stoops said one horse, Anna bell, was beaten in the face with a board. It's now blind in one eye.

Stoops says since Hooves and Paws opened in 2006, she and her husband have rescued nearly 500 horses and dogs. The majority come from neglectful or abusive situations.

"How they get back at the spouse is by abusing or neglecting the animal," Stoops described.

Stoops said she's glad she can get animals out of abusive situations. She hopes this law will make it easier for some animals to stay with a trusted owner.

Lawmakers will debate the bill later this week.

If it makes it through the Judiciary Committee, the full statehouse will vote on it.

That could take several months.