An abuser will use many forms of intimidation and threats to maintain power and control. If a woman is forced to watch her spouse kill the family pet in front of her and her children, she will think very hard about her next steps. It is very effective in keeping women in the relationship, feeling trapped and afraid.
According to americanhumane.org:
- 71% of pet-owning women entering women’s shelters reported that their batterer had threatened, injured, maimed, or killed family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims; 32% reported their children had hurt or killed animals.
- Between 25% and 40% of battered women are unable to escape abusive situations because they worry about what will happen to their pets or livestock should they leave.
When a woman comes into shelter at Hope House, we are able to house their pets overnight. The woman and her advocate will contact other agencies that specialize in work with animals and will try to arrange temporary solutions for the care of the pet. But this does not help in the long term.
We are currently in conversation with Independence Animal Control to explore ideas that could help women with pets who are seeking our services. We want to eliminate the barrier that may be keeping a woman from realizing her dream of a life that is free of abuse for her, her children and her pets.