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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Domestic violence law now covers the purposeful abuse of pets, or threat thereof

House Majority Leader Ángel Matos García

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia has signed into law a measure amending Act 54 to add that threatening to abuse or mistreat pets to inflict emotional damage on a partner will be considered an act of domestic violence, according to reports on Tuesday.

Pierluisi signed the Law for the Prevention and Intervention of Domestic Violence (House Bill 582), which was co-authored by Popular Democratic Party House Majority Leader Ángel Matos García and two other lawmakers.

The law, which states in its preamble that domestic violence and animal abuse continue to be serious problems in society, includes the threat of mistreatment or mistreatment of pets within behaviors that are defined as intimidation and psychological violence. It also defines new aggravating circumstances, Matos said in a statement.

“As part of the incidents of domestic violence perpetrated on our island, there have been various cases of animal abuse, in which the aggressors have cruelly abused animals or pets with the intention of inflicting emotional damage on partners or ex-partners,” he said.

“With this law we seek to address this problem and attach the responsibility of those who attack not only their partners, but also the pets that are part of the family,” added the legislator, with whom Reps. Jocelyne Rodríguez and Eddie Charbonier co-authored the measure.

Rodríguez said pets “are beings that are loved as members of the family and often the aggressor uses this feeling to manipulate a relationship.”

Given this, she said the lower chamber and the Committee on Women’s Affairs that she chairs “will continue to fight until a reduction or eradication of this evil is achieved, which affects not only the victim, but also all those who go through this experience as a family member and/or friend.

Various studies have shown that the aforementioned behaviors are part of the tactics employed by the aggressor to inflict fear, hopelessness, sadness or intimidation, which results in psychological abuse against partners or ex-partners.

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