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New Law Offers More Help For Abuse Victims & Their Pets

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – New state laws now give more protection to not only victims of domestic abuse, but their pets, as well.

Kelli, who lives in Dallas County, hasn’t left home much lately. But she did Wednesday afternoon.

She says it’s because she is no longer afraid, “It’s horrible. It’s been horrible,” she said.

The 40-year-old is a former K9 police officer and she is sharing her story of abuse with CBS 11 News and asked that her last name not be used.

She says over the holidays her husband hit her and pulled a gun on her.

“I got hit, I don’t know if it was close handed or fist or what,” she said, “I felt a hit out of nowhere that knocked me backwards.”

Kelli’s husband was arrested and charged with Aggravated Assault. He’s out of jail and she says he cleaned out their bank accounts.

Kelli refuses to leave her house and says she can’t go to a shelter with her pets because most don’t allow them.

She did get a protective order against her husband which, starting this year, gives abuse victims and their pets more protection.

“It takes away a barrier for her to be able to leave,” said Kelly Slaven-Terstriep with the Genesis Women’s Shelter in Dallas. “For some people, pets are their primary companion they are primary focus in their lives by saying if you leave me I will kill your dog or kill hurt animal so it is a very big factor in some relationships.”

Another big change includes the time an order can be in place.

Before, it was two years but depending on the case it can be a life-long order now.

“To have to go back and reapply for a protective order two years later, it’s a daunting task for many,” said Slaven-Terstriep.

Kelli said she feels safer with the protective order, though she knows anything is possible.

“I was a police officer. I was strong, I could have handled anything and the ongoing abuse the verbal abuse I have endured and my son has endured, it’s been unbelievable,” Kelli said.

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