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  • Writer's pictureGeraldine Waxman, ESQ.

The PAWS Act - An Op Ed

As an experienced mediator I have long held the opinion that simply sending out an inquiry regarding potential abuse (in pre-filing cases) not only has its limits but also poses potential harm. While I rely on my experience and intuition, I would prefer to make gentle inquiries at the outset if I have concerns. Of course this should be done in caucus. We, as mediators can make these inquiries without actually asking direct questions. As a result, I thought you might be interested in the following relatively new federal legislation:

Federal Pet and Woman's Safety Act (PAWS Act 2018)

The PAWS Act has expanded the federal crime of stalking to include threats to the pets of stalking victims. The statute's protections apply to "a person traveling in interstate commence (who) engages in conduct that (A) places a person in reasonable fear of the death or serious bodily injury to...(iv) the pet, service animal, emotional support animal, or horse of that person." The PACT (Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture)Act which was signed into law on 11/25/2019 has, among other things, made acts of animal cruelty themselves a federal crime. It is important to note here that according to the American Humane Society a survey of pet owning families with substantiated child abuse and neglect found that animals where abused in 88% of homes where child physical abuse was present and that 71% of battered women report that pets were threatened, harmed and/or killed by their partners.

I certainly appreciate any comments and follow up responses for publication in this regard.

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