File photo by Chris Stone

Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, Tuesday introduced a bill that would ensure survivors of violent crimes can use their state financial assistance to pay for expenses related to housing a pet.

The California Victim Compensation Board provides compensation for survivors of crimes like domestic violence who have been injured or threatened with injury. The state program covers relocation funds for those whose physical or emotional well-being depends on a change in housing, but it does not explicitly allow beneficiaries to use the money to cover any additional rent or deposits that might be required to house their pets, according to Atkins’ office.

She said her bill would help survivors of violent crime avoid choosing between a safe home and keeping their pet.

“I cannot imagine the anguish of possibly being separated from a beloved pet on top of the trauma associated with physical abuse,” Atkins said. “Pets are members of the family, and the love and comfort they provide can help heal emotional wounds. SB 1005 will allow survivors and their animal companions to stay together in a safe home during a difficult time.”

Finding a pet-friendly home should never be a barrier to ensuring the safety of a domestic violence survivor, said Kathy Moore, executive director of the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.

“There is an alarming connection between animal cruelty and domestic violence,” she said. “SB 1005 will enhance pet-related relocation support, allowing more survivors to reach safety with their pets.”