Domestic Violence and Animals
We cover a lot of topics here on PetsWeekly, not all of them super serious. My reasoning for this is that believe if we dwell on positive things, we’ll attract positive readers. But the fact is, life isn’t all sunbeams and unicorns. This topic, if it reaches only one person, will be worth the time it took to write about it – because domestic abuse is something that affects not only the spouse, but the family, the pets, and everyone else the abuser comes in contact with.
In my time doing animal rescue, I’ve witnessed many women (and men) who were giving up their pets because they were finally ready to leave their abusers, yet, they knew the abuser would take out their anger on the pets. In fact, that is how I wound up adopting Aquilla, one of the most terrified dogs I’ve ever had. I’ve seen dogs and cats that were killed after the abuser threw them against a wall, I’ve heard of cases where the dogs or cats were hung, choked, beaten or stabbed. I’ve seen a horse with its tendons cut – all because some cowardly, miserable excuse for a human was seeking to punish a spouse who left.
For this reason, we’re working on a series of articles about this topic and if you share anything from this site, I hope this is one of the articles you choose to network out.
Domestic violence can be anything from physical abuse to emotional abuse. And the one way to get to an animal lover, is through their pets. The statistics are staggering. A recent study of eleven U.S. cities revealed that a history of pet abuse is one of the four most significant indicators of who is at greatest risk of becoming a domestic batterer.
This means that not only is animal abuse a possible outcome, it’s an indicator of domestic violence…
Abusers batter animals for many reasons. The most common include:
- Control. “I.e., Do you see what I’m capable of doing to your pet if you don’t do as I say?”
- Fear. “If you don’t do as I say, I will injure/torture/mutilate the only thing you love.”
- Isolation. “If you report this, I will take your pets and you will be alone.”
- Punishment. “You did ______ so I’m going to do ______ to your pet.”
- Force submission. “Do as I say or I will kill your pet.”
Here are some interesting facts:
- Those who abuse animals are more dangerous and violent to people.
- A Texas study found that batterers who also abuse pets are more dangerous and use more violent and controlling behaviors than those who do not harm animals.
- Twelve separate studies have reported that between 18 and 48 percent of battered women, and their children, delay leaving abusive situations in fear for what might happen to their animals.
- Women who do seek safety at shelters are nearly 11 times more likely to report that their partner has hurt or killed their animals than women who have not experienced domestic abuse.
- In Wisconsin, 68 percent of battered women revealed that abusive partners had also been violent toward pets or livestock; more than three-quarters of these cases occurred in the presence of the women and/or children to intimidate and control them.
- Children who are exposed to domestic violence were three times more likely to be cruel to animals.
- The Chicago Police Department found that approximately 30 percent of individuals arrested for dog fighting and animal abuse had domestic violence charges on their records.
If you are in an abusive relationship, we sincerely hope you will do some research to get you and your pets out of this environment immediately.
Here are some resources where you can begin.
- Help for Abused and Battered Women
- Leaving Abuse
- Resources by State on Violence Against Women
- Red Rover: Leaving with Your Pets
- ASPCA: Domestic Violence and Animals
- Safe Haven: The Humane Society Accepts Pets
Here is an extra tip on how you can keep your intentions private and safely explore sites without your abuser knowing:
- If you are using Chrome, please remember to open an “Incognito” page before searching (this will ensure no one will see your browser history).
Domestic abuse is a topic that doesn’t get enough attention. Why? Because if you have never experienced it, it’s something you cannot relate to. It’s sad to think about, even sadder to hear of someone experiencing it, and it inspires in me a pure animosity towards the perpetrators. If you are a victim, report it and FOLLOW THROUGH on prosecution. If you suspect it, report it. If you have a family member who is experiencing it, encourage them to leave and help them with the resources (shelter, internet time to research, rides to get them away, help with placing pets, etc.).
This is a topic that affects all of society – not just the victim.
Learn more about Domestic Violence and Pets on our site and on others:
- Domestic Violence and Animals
- Escaping Domestic Abuse: Taking Your Pets With You
- Red Rover: Domestic Violence Relief
- Directory of Safe Havens for Animals Program
- Domestic Violence National Hotlines and Resources