The Humane Society of the United States applauds New Jersey lawmakers for strengthening the state’s protections for animals by authorizing courts to include animals in domestic violence restraining orders. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed A1633/S540, the Domestic Violence Pet Protection Order act, into law on Tuesday after it passed the state legislature with strong bipartisan support.

The Domestic Violence Pet Protection Order act, sponsored by Sen. Tom Kean Jr., Sen. Jeff Van Drew, Assemblywoman Connie Wagner and Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk, will not only serve to protect the animals who are tragically involved in many domestic violence cases, but will also have a direct impact in protecting the people who are targeted.

“We applaud the legislature and Governor Christie for recognizing the link between animal cruelty and human violence and for taking steps to protect animals and their families. This law sends a strong message to abusers that they cannot victimize the creatures who comfort us,” said Kathleen Schatzmann, New Jersey state director for the Humane Society of the United States.

Realizing that animals are often viewed as beloved family members, domestic violence abusers often target pets to intimidate or control their spouse or partner. As a result, pets are sometimes hurt or killed.

Now that courts can include animals in domestic violence restraining orders, victims will no longer feel they have no alternative but to remain in violent households, leaving themselves and their children at risk.

The signing of this bill comes on the heels of the results of the Humane Society of the United States’ third annual “Humane State Ranking,” a comprehensive report rating all 50 states and Washington D.C. on a wide range of animal protection laws, including animal cruelty codes, equine protection standards, wildlife issues, animals in research and farm animal policy. The HSUS ranked New Jersey second in the nation—tied with Oregon—for its strong animal-protection policies.

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