We often think of our pets as members of the family; but it is their role in relationship conflict that is currently being considered by the NSW Government.
As the NSW Government considers the criminalisation of coercive and controlling behaviours, it is also looking at amendments to the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act to include new provisions to:
- expand the definition of "intimidation" to include circumstances where there is harm, or threat of harm, to pets and companion animals; and
- include the protection of animals as a standard condition in Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders.
Pets can be used by perpetrators to control victims, making the victim feel powerless to leave a relationship for fear of retribution being inflicted on the animal.
Intentionally causing death or injury to an animal has been legislated as an example of family violence in the Commonwealth Family Law Act for almost 10 years. The proposed amendment to the state legislation takes the protection further; with protections available at the time of a threat being made, rather than once the harm has occurred.
This is but one of the amendments currently being considered by the NSW State Government to address issues of family violence in our community; to attempt to remove the instruments utilised by perpetrators, and make it easier to respond to these socially unacceptable behaviours.