Washington law would let judges factor in pets in divorces

Northeast

(NewsNation) — Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are on the verge of passing a law that could change the way pets are perceived in the nation’s capital forever.

The Washington Post reported the District’s Council is on track to pass protections that allows judges to determine the well-being of pets in divorce proceedings.

It’s a law for which the Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA) says it’s been fighting.

“The Animal Care and Control Omnibus Amendment is one that the HRA has been working with the D.C. Council on for some years. We’re very supportive of the overall package,” Emily Hovermale, the director of government affairs at the HRA, said on NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” Wednesday.

“I think that that really is in line with the way that people feel their pets are members of the family. And they are not simply property, and they deserve to have their interests taken into consideration,” Hovermale said.

Three states — Illinois, Alaska, and California — have already established laws requiring courts to consider an animal’s well-being when determining pet custody in divorce cases.

Animal advocates say these laws are a relatively new trend.

The Washington proposal that’s expected to pass on Dec. 20 after one more vote, however, covers a little more ground: The bill also makes the sale and possession of dog-fighting equipment a crime, bans declawing cats and outlaws the retail sale of dogs, cats and aquatic turtles unless the animal was obtained from a shelter or rescue.

“It will take places like D.C. enacting legislation and advocates really asking for it to make this go forward. That’s how this happened in D.C. — that’s how this became a part of the legislation —and I think more people are becoming aware of it, and working on passing it in their states,” Hovermale said.

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