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Rep. Porter Leads Effort to Empower Survivors of Domestic Violence with Pets

Congresswoman is joined by 81 colleagues in supporting 34 percent of domestic violence survivors with pets

Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) today led 81 members in supporting legislation aimed at empowering those trapped in domestic violence situations by giving them the tools to keep their pets safe. Approximately 34 percent of domestic violence survivors are torn between escaping abuse and leaving a beloved pet behind.

“We should be doing everything we can to empower survivors of domestic violence to escape abuse,” Congresswoman Porter said. “It is unconscionable that survivors might be forced to choose between seeking safety and caring for their pets. I am proud to continue the work of my predecessor to support survivors—this is not a partisan issue.”

Porter is calling for adequate funding for implementation the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, a federal program designed to assist victims of domestic violence to safely shelter their pets when they leave their abusers. She is continuing the work of her predecessor, Republican Mimi Walters, who led the PAWS Act in the previous congressional session.

Porter’s push has the support of Representatives Steve Cohen (TN-9) and Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-5), who both fought for passage of the PAWS Act into law.

“As a member of the Animal Welfare Caucus and a longstanding advocate of the humane treatment of all animals and pets, I wholeheartedly endorse funding to empower victims of domestic violence to escape their abusers with their companion animals,” said Congressman Steve Cohen.  “It is vital that this new grant program is adequately funded to truly make an impact.” 

“Pets are a part of our families. Yet, only 3% of domestic violence shelters across the country can accommodate them,” said Congresswoman Katherine Clark. “The PAWS Act provides shelters the resources necessary to ensure survivors can leave dangerous situations with their entire family, including their pets. I want to thank Congresswoman Porter for working with me on this life saving bill.”

Porter’s efforts also earned the endorsement of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the ASPCA, and Animal Wellness.

“This funding and language is urgently needed to get the PAWS grant program up and running quickly,” said Mimi Brody, Director of Federal Affairs for Humane Society Legislative Fund.  “We know there are families who delay their decision to leave a violent situation out of fear for their pets’ safety, and this program will help remove that barrier by providing shelter options for domestic violence survivors with companion animals. We are so grateful to Representative Clark for her sustained and passionate commitment to address this, and to Representatives Porter and Cohen for mobilizing this wide showing of bipartisan support for strong PAWS provisions in the final appropriations package.”

Rep. Porter has been a consistent advocate for survivors of domestic violence. Last month, she held a roundtable in Orange County to talk about preventing and intervening in cases of domestic violence. Over the summer, she secured bipartisan support in the House for a program to promote intimate partner violence response and health collaboration at the state level. Porter voted to pass an extension for the Violence Against Women Act, which included her amendment to integrate the term “economic abuse” throughout the legislation. She also joined her House colleagues at an event announcing the introduction of the legislation to extend VAWA, where she shared her story dealing with law enforcement as a survivor of domestic violence. 

Read the full text of Porter’s letter HERE.