Movement aims to protect pets, victims in domestic abuse situationsSubmitted: 05/06/2015
PHILLIPS - Many times, a cat or dog in the home makes domestic violence situations even more complicated. The abuser may hurt the animal, or the victim might be reluctant to get out of the home while leaving the animal behind.

TimeOut of Price County serves victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault. Its workers hear story after story of innocent pets being involved in abusive situations.

"(Victims say,) 'I see this happening to my pet constantly. My abuser has a bad day or we get into an argument and they take it out on my pet. I fear for my safety, I fear for my pet's safety,'" said Becky Steinbach, a Sexual Assault Program Coordinator at TimeOut in Phillips.

Sometimes in an abusive relationship, a pet is the only thing a victim can trust.

"They rely pretty heavily on their pets for companionship," Steinbach said. "With that, the abuser knows that and will torture the pet, or hurt the pet in some way, or threaten to, if the victim is to leave."

"It is one more element of control that an abuser has over a victim," said Rep. Andre Jacque (R-DePere).

Jacque worked with Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) to create a bill that would expand restraining order options in domestic violence situations. The bill would allow judges to include pets in restraining orders.

"In approximately half of all domestic abuse cases, it is a significant factor in delaying leaving that very negative situation," Jacque said.

The proposed bill might give victims more protection in situations which include pets.

"I had somebody come in. The abuser had killed two of their dogs," Steinbach said. "She said, 'I know we're next, because we're not getting another dog.'"

TimeOut serves Price, Rusk, and Washburn Counties. Their Rusk County shelter in Ladysmith has an agreement with the local animal shelter. Pets of abuse victims can stay at the animal shelter while the victim is at the abuse shelter.

"A lot of shelters, ours included, are looking at being some sort of kenneling system ourselves, where maybe it's in a garage or a separate building," said Steinbach.

Other shelters in the Northwoods area say they hear major concerns on a regular basis about domestic abuse and pets. HAVEN serves Lincoln County, and the Tri-County Council serves Oneida, Forest, and Vilas Counties. Both organizations often hear similar concerns.

Jacque's bill on restraining orders passed the state Senate on a voice vote on Wednesday. Wisconsin would be the 29th state with a law of this kind if it gets support from the Assembly and Governor Walker.

That looks likely. The bill was cosponsored by several legislators from both parties.

"I am very happy that this is an area where there has been very strong and consistent bipartisan support," Jacque said.

Story By: Ben Meyer

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PHILLIPS - If more students went to school in their home area, school districts like Phillips would be in a much better financial place. Phillips stands to forgo more than $300,000 in state aid because of open enrollment.

The formal open enrollment window closed last week. About 80 students living in the district will likely attend school somewhere else next school year. Fewer than half of that number will come to Phillips by choice.

With how state funding is calculated, Phillips will lose about $6,600 per student that leaves.

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WOODRUFF - Seniors who rely on the Senior Meal Program in the Lakeland area won't receive their food for a few days after a fire destroyed the Lakeland Senior Center in Woodruff early Wednesday morning. 

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 05/06/2015

- Victims of domestic abuse often need to get away from their abuser.  But what about their pets?  New legislation addresses that question.

- Plus, we look at the Phillips School District, an example of one district getting less money because of negative open enrollment numbers.

 We'll have the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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"I just felt I never was qualified to go," Writz said.

It took a couple of years to convince him to go on the Never Forgotten Honor Flight. Writz served stateside as a radio repairman from 1950 to 1953, during the Korean War.

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