A national non-profit animal advocacy group is highlighting available resources for those seeking to escape domestic violence and keep their animals safe after a weekend incident.

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A Battle Creek man is behind bars and facing up to life in prison for attacking his girlfriend, her sons, choking a puppy, and being a habitual offender. The Executive Director of the Animal Wellness Action, Marty Irby, says the incident highlights the need for programs like the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act.

Marty Irby, Executive Director at Animal Wellness Action:

We are saddened to hear of the alleged domestic and animal abuse incident in Battle Creek and hope the authorities will take swift action to bring charges against those who blatantly disregard the law and seek to harm both humans and animals alike.

And we applaud U.S. Senator Gary Peters for his tremendous work in securing the Pet and Women Safety Act signed into law in 2018 to help address situations of domestic violence where pets are held hostage or intentionally harmed. The way we treat animals, and the most vulnerable among us is a direct reflection of our character as a society, and we encourage shelters and victims to seek PAWS grant funding assistance that would provide a safe haven for victims.

The PAWS Act was signed into law in 2018. U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) was the lead sponsor and author of the bill that offers federal grants to shelters so those in danger of abuse can take their pets with them. U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) was a supporter of the measure in the U.S. House.

The details are shocking but not as shocking as another incident that happened in the county at the end of January. 29-year-old Marcel Dion Dunigan, of Battle Creek, was arraigned Monday on a felony count of Aggravated Assault, two misdemeanor counts of Domestic Assault, and a count each of Domestic Violence and Animal Cruelty on Monday, February 8th.

Dunigan is accused of a brutal attack on his girlfriend, her sons, and the family puppy. Battle Creek Police responded to the incident before 1:00 p.m. Saturday, February 6, 2021. The alleged assault occurred at a home in the 200 block of Graves Street, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer.

The 37-year-old victim told officers that she and her live-in boyfriend were arguing when he grabbed her hair and began slamming her head repeatedly into the floor and a crate a few dozen times. That's when the victim's 13 and 14-year-old sons attempted to step in and protect their mother. Dunigan is accused of then turning his anger towards the two boys leaving one with a broken hand. After assaulting both boys he then began strangling a 4-month-old puppy.

By the time police arrived, Dunigan was on the front porch of the home. Officers observed he had two black eyes and several cuts on his face. After receiving stitches, Dunigan was taken to the Calhoun County Jail.

On Monday, February 8, 29-year-old Marcel Dion Dunigan was arraigned on a felony count of Aggravated Assault, two misdemeanor counts of Domestic Assault, and a count each of Domestic Violence and Animal Cruelty. He faces up to life in prison if convicted as a fourth-time habitual offender. He is expected to return to court on February 16th for a preliminary hearing.

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