Pets and Domestic Violence

Pets are highly vulnerable to harm in abusive households and can also be used for abusive purposes against the survivor. Often, survivors stay in abusive homes for fear that their pets will be abused or killed if they leave.

  • 71% of pet-owning women entering domestic violence shelters reported that their abusive partner had threatened, injured, maimed, or killed family pets for revenge or to control the survivor.
  • 52% of survivors in shelters have had to leave pets with their abusive partner.
  • Up to 40% of survivors are unable to escape their abusers because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets when they leave.
  • 13% of intentional animal abuse cases involve domestic violence.
  • Abusers threaten, harm or kill children’s pets to coerce them into sexual abuse or force them to remain silent about abuse.
  • Investigation for animal abuse is often the first point of social services intervention for a family in trouble.

Increasingly, shelters and other short-term housing options for survivors—including New Beginnings’ Housing Program—are able to accept pets with survivors leaving abusive relationships. If you are interested in helping, contact your local humane society to learn if they have a “safe haven” foster program for pets of domestic violence survivors.

 Sources: American Humane Association and RedRover.