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Monday, April 03, 2006

New Maine Law Shields Animals in Domestic Violence Cases

From the New York Times:

Susan Walsh told Maine legislators a chilling tale in January. She said she had wanted many times to take her two children and leave her husband, ending a relationship she found frightening and controlling.

But she said she was afraid he would harm the animals on their 32-acre plot called Blessed Be Farm in Ellsworth, Me. In the past, she said in a telephone interview yesterday, he had retaliated against her by running over her blind and deaf border collie named Katydid, shooting two sheep and wringing the necks of her prized turkeys.

"It wasn't just the cats and the dogs I had, it was the sheep and the chickens — I was terrified for their welfare," Ms. Walsh, 50, said. "I knew if I were to leave, he wouldn't hesitate to kill them. He had done it before."

Experts on domestic violence say accounts like that of Ms. Walsh, who is now divorced, are not unusual. They say many men who abuse wives or girlfriends threaten or harm their animals to coerce or control the women.

To address the problem, Maine's governor, John Baldacci, signed a bill yesterday that allows animals to be included in protection orders in domestic violence cases.

For the full story, go to:


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