UTAH (ABC4) – Jessica Gonzalez and her dog Roxie have been through so much together.
“I was really terrified for my life,” said Gonzalez.
It took Gonzalez two years to leave an abusive relationship.
“I was really trapped… The only thing I had was my dog,” said Gonzalez.
When she finally got out, the nightmare continued. Gonzalez says her ex demanded she return the dog. She said even his friends started to harass her.
“I was afraid they were going to come and steal her from me,” said Gonzalez.
Advocacy director for the Humane Society of Utah, Rachel Heatley, said she sees this happen all the time.
“Studies show that up to 50 percent of women have delayed leaving a domestic violence situation in fear of what would happen to their pet,” said Heatley.
House Bill 175 allows victims to extend protection orders to their pets, much like what a parent would do with their child.
“You can physically separate the animal from the abuser before they get that chance to attack the animal,” said Heatley.
Escaping an abusive relationship was the hardest thing Gonzalez has had to do, but she said HB 175 could help provide a little security to people who desperately need it.
“You have to find purpose in something and commit yourself to something that gives you a will to live, and she’s done that for me,” said Gonzalez.
On Friday, the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee unanimously passed HB 175 onto the House for a vote.