Abusers are controlling victims by threats to their pets. Recent surveys show in 74% of abuse cases the victim owns a pet and in nearly three-quarters of those the pet is threatened, abused or killed. Victims are often afraid of leaving for fear of what may happen to their pet.

When Pets are Caught in the Middle of Domestic Abuse – A desperate phone plea from a woman whose husband was beating her rottweiler to death is one call that will forever haunt Elizabeth McGowan.

“I was trying to tell her to get herself out of the situation, but she would not leave,” said McGowan, director of the New York Association for New Americans’ Center for Women and Families, a Manhattan agency that serves the immigrant community. “This woman was injured protecting her pet because she had no place to go.”

For domestic violence workers, it is an all-too familiar scenario.

Finally progress! New laws are being made to protect the pets of domestic violence victims.

Last August, a Queens judge issued the first-ever order of protection in New York for a pet after the ASPCA busted Bronx resident Frederick Fontanez in the beating of his neighbor’s 14-pound Bichon Frise, Bebe.

The new law, passed a month before the ruling, permits family pets to be included in protective court orders involving cases of domestic violence. The court orders are meant to shield animals as well as spouses and domestic partners from abusers.

“Often, animals are caught in the cycle of domestic violence. The ASPCA welcomes this additional tool in the fight against animal cruelty,” said ASPCA assistant director Joseph Pentangelo.

Unfortunately the law is still little known and most women’s abuse shelters do not accept nor are they set up to care for the pets of abused women.   In NY,  an agency has been formed to to tackle to joint problems of domestic abuse and animal cruelty.  At this point they offer this advise…

Domestic violence expert Susan Urban, formerly of the ASPCA suggests ... domestic violence victims plan ahead for their animals. That includes making an escape plan for your animal; getting an order of protection that covers your pet and clarifying ownership of the animal through a pet license, paperwork or adoption papers. Also, try to arrange for fostering through friends, family or a vet, and contact an animal rights lawyer. (From AOL Journels – 4/29/07 – For the full story Click here)

This is but one small step in the right direction but all I can think is wouldn’t it be better if we didn’t have to do things like this? No, with human nature, I don’t expect a Utopian society, all sunshine and rainbows, but I do expect people one day to realize that violence like this doesn’t solve anything.  Violence only breeds more violence.  Abused children too often turn into abusive adults and abused animals often turn and attack.  WAKE UP PEOPLE!!

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