According to the Patriot Ledger, in late November, 2012, a dog in Marshfield was the first pet to receive protection from the new state law that allows pets to be included in 209A abuse protection orders. The new state law, which became effective on October 31, 2012, gives judges the authority to award possession of the pet to the victim and to order that the abuser refrain from abusing, threatening, taking, interfering with, transferring, encumbering, concealing, harming or otherwise disposing of the animal. While the new law does not refer to "custody" of the pet, perhaps it will be the catalyst that changes the way that pets are viewed in the Probate and Family Court. Perhaps we will soon be arguing about the "pet schedule" that serves the "best interest of the animal"?
- Jennifer R. Silva