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Pet Abuse

Animals are victims of domestic violence too! In the majority of American households, companion animals are part of the family.

A recent survey of the nation's largest shelters for battered women found that 85% of women and 63% of children entering shelters discussed incidents of pet abuse in the family, Animal Safehouse programs are available to help victims who want to help the often overlooked victims - their beloved pets.

Why do Batterers Threaten, Abuse, or Kill Animals?

  • To demonstrate and confirm power and control over the family
  • To isolate the victim and children.
  • To eliminate competition for attention.
  • To force the family to keep violence a secret.
  • To teach submission.
  • To retaliate for acts of independence and self-determination.
  • To perpetuate the context of terror.
  • To prevent the victim from leaving or coerce him or her to return.
  • To punish the victim for leaving.
  • To degrade the victim though involvement of the abuse.

Why Should We Recognize Animal Abuse as a Form of Battering?

  • Animal abuse exposes the deliberateness of battering rather than loss of control.
  • Animal abuse and child abuse are closely related.
  • Animal abuse if often a tool used by batterers to emotionally control or coerce victims.
  • Threatening, injuring, or killing animals can indicate the potential for increased violence or lethality.
  • Victims may postpone leaving out of fear for their pets' safety.
  • Identifying animal abusers can help identify other victims of violence within the family.

What Can You Do To Protect Your Pets?

  • Develop an emergency plan for sheltering your pets, yourself, and your children.
  • Establish ownership of the pets (obtain an animal license, proof of vaccinations or veterinary receipts in your name to help prove you own the pets).
  • Prepare the pets for departure (collect vaccination and medical records, collar and identification, medication, bowls, bedding).
  • Ask for assistance from law enforcement or animal care and control officers to reclaim the pets if left behind.
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