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.