Thursday, June 3, 2010

Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence

When animals in a home are abused or neglected, it may be a warning sign that others in the household are being abused as well. 

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

  • 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.
Abuse of a beloved pet can be the trigger for a woman to make the call to the hotline to seek services. But lack of a safe place for the family pet could be a reason she can’t enter shelter.

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.


  1. When Shithead threatened my dog, that's when I knew it was time to leave. He wanted me to give him away or get rid of him any way I could, knowing that the dog was my last bit of support since I'd been isolated from everyone else. My dad still thinks my dog saved my life. I hope you can find a way to help these women that want to keep their animals. My dog is what got me thru the relationship and the subsequent recovery!

  2. Trish, it's amazing the support a pet can give when you're at one of your lowest points. Thankfully you (and your pup) were able to get out. We, too, hope that we can find a long term solution to helping women keep their pets with them. Give your pups extra hugs tonight from us!