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Do protective orders cover pets?

If you are attempting to escape an abusive marriage in Clarksville, then you likely want to leave along with those in house that you care about. This of course includes any children you may have and yes, your pets. If you are like most pet owners, then you likely feel a kinship with that animal similar to that you may have with a child. Your abuser may recognize this, which could be why in many cases of domestic abuse, the abusers’ aggression is often directed at everyone in a household, including the animals.

Animal cruelty laws may offer your pet some degree of protection from your abusive spouse. Were you aware, however, that Tennessee law also views violence against pets as a form of domestic abuse? According to the Annotated Code of Tennessee, abuse is defined as any physical injury (or the threat thereof) delivered on an adult, minor, or any animal owned by either of those two parties.

When escaping your abusive spouse, one of your first actions may be to secure a protective order against him or her. That order will typically assign protection to you, your children, your family members and your pets. Yet when leaving your spouse, you may be forced to go to a new home or temporary living quarters that cannot accommodate your pet, such as a protective shelter or the home of a friend who may have a pet allergy. What then? Are you forced to return the pet to your spouse?

Subsection 9 of Chapter 3, Part 6 in Tennessee’s title regarding domestic relations states that when a protective order is issued, in no instance will care of a pet be entrusted to whomever it is against. Instead the pet will be given to you, or placed in an animal foster situation. 

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