PETS OF VIOLENCE
Posted on September 11 2019
"Pet ownership is associated with improved quality of life through social support, reduced depression, and other psychosocial predictors of health-” Pets and Happiness: Examining the Association between Pet Ownership and Wellbeing
Pets are beloved members of their households. They have established family members of human homes, despite their species.
Their innocence and loyalty, their companionship and devotion are only a few factors that make them so precious to their owners. Their love for their caretakers is unhindered by discrimination, unsullied by superficial affection.
In cases of domestic violence, the powerful tie shared by pet and pet owner can be wielded as an abuser’s weapon of choice.
Domestic abuse, or intimate partner violence, is the umbrella terms and charges afforded to a much more complex, layered crime. Most often, several separate and differing acts of criminality are committed in these cases. They are cyclical crimes of physical, mental, emotional, sexual, and economical abuse and behaviors.
Abuse of companion animals is a commonality in the abuser’s cadre of tactics in corruption of their target's psyche. Isolation is a significant step in the of in an abuser’s modi operandi. Household pets are often the solitary source of socialization and comfort a victim has access to.
This close relationship causes the pet to become the target of an abuser alongside the victim. It is not uncommon for the animal to be subjected to maltreatment that rivals the pain inflicted upon the abusers partner.
According to a survey conducted at a women’s shelter in Utah, “out of women who kept an animal, “71% reported that their male partner had harmed or threatened to harm the animal, while 57% reported that actual harm or death to the animal had occurred”.
The high probability of their companion animal suffering in their place is one of the many reasons domestic violence victims may choose to remain in the household with the abuser. This, or the woman’s shelter more accessible to the individual in question does not accommodate pets.
"Pets are usually being treated exactly like the victims in domestic violence situations," Says Katie Campbell, outreach manager at Red Rover Relief. An organization that financially assists in survivors and pets escaping while evading separation from one another. "But not many shelters offer space for the women and their pets. We're working to change that."
The bond between the two is mightier than the standard love of pet and pet owner. They are the victim's comrade. The animal is the one the victim seeks out for emotional support following an episode of violence. At times, an episode the two were concurrent receivers of.
“As many as 48 percent of the battered women responding to surveys said they had delayed leaving a dangerous situation out of concern for their pets’ safety. Some survivors have reported living in their cars with their companion animals rather than leaving them behind."-C.P. Flynn
The law is not an asset when it comes to preserving the life and safety of the pet, nor in achieving retribution in light of their demise. In these cases, the animal is reduced to a casualty marking the timeline of an abusive relationship. The murder of the pet is not a crime in and of itself.
Pets of violence are regarded as human property rather than living and breathing creatures.
States such as Indiana have classified “domestic animal violence, cruelty” under the statue of general offenses against animals.
Maine boasts a law vaguely resembling Indiana's, “kills or tortures an animal to frighten or intimidate a person or forces a person to injure or kill an animal.”
Hurting the animal is also an avenue the abuser takes to avoid the harsher charges reserved for crimes committed against fellow human beings. Victims have stated their conviction that abusers had done to their pets was what they desired to do to them.
This demonstrates why animals require more protection via the penal system. If the animal is fielding the abuse intended for the human being, the crime is still technically one of domestic violence.
It can be argued that harm to the animal causes their owners great psychological and emotional distress, and don’t cases of intimate partner violence include crimes against the victim's mind and emotions among the charges? If pets are regularly in the cross-hairs of the abuser alongside the victim, the laws protecting them as independent entities should be more stringent.
Species dictate the protections available to an animal, but if these laws favor the human, the unbreakable attachment humans develop toward the animal deserve to be taken into account.
For the human’s sake, if not for the pets.
Pets of violence deserve a better fate than being the forgotten casualties of the war on domestic violence.
Please contact A Safe Place For Pets if you or someone you know is looking for help to find a safe location for their pet while relocating from a violent home.