Allow Judges to Grant Custody of Pets


Target: New Hampshire Representative Leigh Webb

Goal: Pass a law in New Hampshire that will give Judges the right to grant custody of pets and protection in cases of domestic violence

A new bill has been proposed in New Hampshire that would not only allow Judges to grant custody of pets, but also include them in restraining orders in cases of domestic violence. The bill has been met with considerable disapproval, but if passed, would be the first bill of its kind and bring the United States one step closer to viewing animals as family and not property.

Rep. Leigh Webb sponsored House Bill 1410, which aims to allow judges to consider animal cruelty as evidence of domestic abuse. “It’s not an animal rights issue; it’s a human issue,” Webb said. “It’s about the victims of domestic abuse.” The measure has already passed through the House and is currently with the Senate Judiciary Committee. The future of the bill is still up in the air, however. A few of Webb’s fellow Representatives are still fighting the measure. Representative Kyle Tasker claims that the law could play into the hands of the abuser who could claim the other party was hurting the pet. “It’s already a he-said-she-said situation,” he said. “If it comes down to who’s the better liar, does that really help anyone?”

The evidence contradicts Tasker’s stance. Franklin, NH Police Chief David Goldstein urged Webb to sponsor the bill to help deal with the complicated cases they receive and police “another arrow in the quiver.” Amanda Grady Sexton, public policy director for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, argued against Tasker, saying, “We need to rely on our judges, who do receive training about how to determine who the primary aggressor is,” she said. “That’s happening now with children.” Sexton also asked New Hampshire’s 14 crisis centers to share their experiences in support of House Bill 1410. The stories flooded in. “It was rabbits, dogs, cats, horses: maiming them, killing them. It was horrifying stuff,” she said.

Animal cruelty is a significant part of domestic violence and needs to be addressed within the legal system. Abusers in domestic violence and sexual abuse cases often threaten pets as a way of preventing victims from seeking help. Studies have shown that more than 70 percent of victims would not leave an abusive household if their pets could not leave with them. Allowing judges to grant custody of pets to victims of domestic abuse would not only save the lives of animals, but could also save the lives of humans as well.

Please sign the petition below to support House Bill 1410 and protect the lives of both humans and animals from domestic violence in New Hampshire.


Dear Representative Webb,

You recently sponsored House Bill 1410, which intends to allow judges to grant custody of animals in cases of domestic and sexual abuse. It has been well documented that animal cruelty plays a significant role in these crimes. Animals are often harmed or threatened to keep victims from seeking help, and victims will often endure more abuse because they refuse to leave the pet behind.

Thank you so much for your commitment to protecting both human and animal lives. I strongly support this bill and hope that other states will soon consider adopting similar laws so that all members of a family will be protected from these horrendous crimes.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Alberto Abouganem Stephens via Flickr

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  1. background checks first

  2. Stan Benton says:

    Perhaps a better solution would be to lock up the abuser?

  3. KatWrangler says:

    My dream is to have a place for people who need to leave a dangerous setting, to bring their pets until they are in a safer place. Too many people stay in bad situations because they’re afraid of leaving their much loved animals with their abusers. If only …

  4. Dana Ortega says:

    Please everyone that’s a true human, with a Godly heart of love and compassion, share this: get others to sign these petitions…the laws must be changed to help our animal friends…proverbs 31 and verse 8.) open your mouth for the dumb (mute) because if you don’t, they are appointed to death/destruction…
    proverbs also says, a righteous person regards to the lives of their animals, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel…please where has to be righteous people that will speak up, even fight if they have to, to get the right thing done, for those that are defenseless…Edmund Burke wants said, all evil needs to thrive, is for good people to sit back and do nothing…it was paraphrase but you can look it up…we can no longer sit back and do nothing, these poor babies need is now, they cannot wait and we must not wait….let’s ACT now and stop cruelty, legally…it’s already been proven that monsters that mistreat animals start with animals, then babies and children and so on, let’s stop this crap before it gets started…strict tough laws against cruel to animals….when it stop there the chances are better that children will not be mistreated..we are our brothers keeper and we are the animals keepers…please let’s keep our children and animals safe, let us from this point on ensure their safety and well being, and when I promise committed, the punishment fit the crime,…no mercy for habitually cruel bastards !

  5. REMEMBER — The greatness of society and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

    It is important that our animals be valued — protecting them — the innocent, the vulnerable, those who are at the mercy of humans —


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