Author of Florida law targeting animal abusers seeks to help domestic violence survivors keep pets

Author of Florida law targeting animal abusers seeks to help domestic violence survivors keep pets

PONCE INLET, Fla. – The writer of Ponce’s Law is now taking her mission to support animal welfare to the next level.

Ponce’s Law is a bill that was passed in 2018 after a Black Lab puppy was fatally beaten to death in 2017. The law increases the chances of animal abusers going to jail and allows a judge to bar someone convicted of animal cruelty from owning a pet.

Ponce’s Law writer Debbie Darino said she has noticed an increase in the need for assistance to care for animals, regardless of whether they were victims of animal cruelty. To help all animals, she’s now starting her own non-profit, The Ponce Animal Foundation, Inc.

“Our mission is to help take care of animals that are in need of veterinary care, medical costs and emergency services,” Darino said.

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The non-profit is for all animals, no matter their situation, and Darino has big plans for his organization.

“What I plan on doing is having kennel runs put up at the domestic violence shelter,” Darino said. “What they’ll do is they’ll have a little doggie door, and a kennel run will go out. This way, the owner can bring their pet with them and don’t have to worry about leaving it behind and having it killed or injured or staying in that abusive situation.”

Through donations, Darino plans to build three kennels at The Beacon Center in Daytona Beach. The Beacon Center is an organization that provides services to women and children who are survivors of domestic abuse.

Beacon Center CEO, Angie Pye, said sometimes victims of abuse have to make a tough call to get help or to leave their pets behind if a shelter can’t accommodate them.

“Many people will not leave their home if they have to leave their animal, and the perpetrator will absolutely use this animal to get the victim back home by threatening the animal and threatening to harm the animal,” Pye said.

The kennels Darino plans to build will connect to residents’ rooms at The Beacon Center.

Pye said that added feature will be huge for residents who bring their pets to the shelter.

“Being able to take that pet into their living space with them and have that comfort of that pet and having that emotional support from that pet is just really going to jump start that healing process and give them some peace,” Pye said.

For more information on the Ponce Animal Foundation Inc. or to donate, click here.

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