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    Cruel thugs who abuse pets could soon be charged with domestic violence under proposed new law

    • NSW government proposed changes to the Crimes Act to include animal abuse 
    • The proposal would change definition of ‘intimidation’ to include animal violence
    • Acts of animal cruelty in NSW can incur a $5,500 fine and six months in prison
    • The Pets and Animal Welfare Support (PAWS) Grants Program was also launched 

    Animal abusers could be charged with domestic violence if a new law is passed through parliament.

    The NSW government has proposed changes to the Crimes Act and Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders to include threatening or abusing animals. 

    Attorney-General Mark Speakman announced the changes on Sunday, which would change the definition of ‘intimidation’ to include violence towards animals. 

    ‘This is an important step that will make it easier to respond to this vile form of abuse that seeks to terrorise victims and their much-loved animals,’ Mr Speakman said.

    The NSW government have proposed changes to the Crimes Act to include the abuse of animals (stock image)

    Mr Speakman said animals can often be used by offenders to exploit their partners in a relationship.

    ‘Perpetrators use animals to intimidate, retaliate against, and manipulate victims during the relationship and after separation, as punishment for leaving,’ he said.

    ‘Animal abuse in domestic violence settings can also delay victims leaving violent situations for fear of having their companion animals left unprotected with perpetrators.’

    Acts of animal cruelty in NSW can incur a $5,500 fine and up to six months in prison. 

    Domestic Violence NSW interim chief executive Delia Donovan said the changes would work to create a more healthy home environment for families across the country. 

    ‘Feedback from frontline workers indicates that domestic violence victim-survivors often disclose that perpetrators have threatened to harm or kill animals,’ she said.

    The proposal would change definition of 'intimidation' to include animal violence (stock image)

     The proposal would change definition of ‘intimidation’ to include animal violence (stock image)

    ‘Protecting animals from perpetrators will therefore continue to improve the safety of people experiencing domestic and family violence across NSW.’

    Mr Speakman also launched the Pets and Animal Welfare Support (PAWS) Grants Program which funds animal shelters to support victims of domestic incidents.

    The NSW Government has invested $500,000 into the program with animal shelters and refuges able to start applying for grants this week.

    ‘These funds will enable refuges to become pet-friendly and to enhance the capacity of animal welfare services to provide temporary foster care for animals so women can leave violent homes without worrying their pet will be harmed,’ Mr Speakman said.

    RSPCA NSW CEO Steve Coleman was supportive of the new initiative.

    ‘The RSPCA is really pleased to play our part in ensuring victims of domestic violence can escape an abusive home and know that their companion animal will be very well cared for by our dedicated staff,’ he said.

    Acts of animal cruelty in NSW can incur a $5,500 fine and six months in prison (stock image)

    Acts of animal cruelty in NSW can incur a $5,500 fine and six months in prison (stock image)

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