Domestic Violence and Your Pet

Batterers hurt both humans and animals. How to find help if you and your pet are at risk.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
5-minute read
Episode #36

Keep Your Pet’s Whereabouts Secret

According to the Humane Society of the United States, it’s uncommon for abusers to go looking for the pet--uncommon, but not unheard of. Be sure the person or agency taking care of your pet knows not to disclose his whereabouts. If your abuser is especially dangerous, it might be smart not to visit your pet for a while.

Have Proof of Ownership

In case the abuser tries to claim the pet is his so as to use him as leverage over you, it’s important to have as much proof as possible of your legal ownership. Vet records, a license, and a microchip registered to you can all help establish that you are the rightful guardian of your companion animal. That can be crucial if you had to flee home in an emergency and leave your pet behind. You may be able to reclaim him with the help of a law enforcement officer if you have proof that he belongs to you.

This episode is heartbreaking, isn’t it? Know that there are signs of hope. More and more vets, social service agencies, and law enforcement officers are aware of the links between animal abuse and human abuse. One study found that 70 percent of those who abused animals had also committed other crimes. In protecting people, we protect animals, and in protecting animals, we protect people too. Spread the word.

I welcome your comments and questions – call 206-600-5661, or email dogtrainer@quickanddirtytips.com. And you can talk to me on Facebook. That’s all till next week. Thanks for listening.

 All studies mentioned in this podcast are cited in the American Humane Association factsheet on animal abuse and domestic violence.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
From the NDVH’s website: “Help is available to callers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Hotline advocates are available for victims and anyone calling on their behalf to provide crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Assistance is available in English and Spanish with access to more than 170 languages through interpreter services.”
The Humane Society of the United States offers information, including a directory of shelters that accept companion animals.
American Humane Association links
Of particular interest to veterinarians:
Randall Lockwood, Ph.D. “Animal Abuse and Human Violence.” State of the Art Lecture given before the World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress (Vancouver), 2001. http://bit.ly/4p5ZHI.
[1] All studies mentioned in this podcast are cited in the American Humane Association factsheet on animal abuse and domestic violence.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).