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An Often Invisible Victim of Domestic Violence: The Family Pet

old ad about pets and domestic viole

It’s a horrible thing. Domestic violence and pet abuse go hand in hand.

Here is a terrifying statistic, according to the American Humane Society:

71% of pet-owning women entering women’s shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims.

Even worse? 32% of those women also reported that their children had hurt or killed animals.

Oof.

There’s more.

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.

Yes, women often stay in abusive situations because they are worried about the animals.

But there is some hope.

At least in Decauter, Georgia.

The Ahimsa House, since 2004, has offered a safe haven to the pets of families of domestic violence. With just two employees, they have created an incredible network of foster homes and shelters that cover over ten counties and keeps the pets until they can be reunited with their families. A recent article quoted the director:

“Statistically, the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence is when that person tries to escape that abusive situation,” said Dr. Maya Gupta, executive director of Ahimsa House. “Being delayed because you don’t know what to do with your pet can be a life or death factor.”

But Ahimsa House isn’t alone. In Madison, Wisconsin, there’s SAAV. In the UK, there’s PetRetreat. In Ohio, there’s SAFE. In Boston, there’s Safe People, Safe Pets.  In Arizona, The Last Resort.

If you are in an abusive situation and are hesitating to leave, please don’t.

Here are some resources for you located at the excellent site, Violence Unsilenced (where you can also find support).

If you are worried about your pet, call your local SPCA or other animal refuge. There is help for ALL of you.

If you are NOT currently in a violent situation, consider joining these other folks and offering emergency foster care for the pets of abuse victims.

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