Nine in 10 domestic abusers also target pets, survey finds

Around nine in 10 households that suffer from domestic violence have said that animals were also abused by the perpetrators, new research has revealed.

The survey, carried out by Refuge4Pets and the Dogs Trust, found that in one in ten (12 per cent) households where domestic abuse was taking place, the pet was killed.

It also indicated that in 94 per cent of homes where an animal was given as a gift, the animals were then abused and sometimes killed by the perpetrator, showing that pets have been used to control and coerce victims.

Keep Household Toxins (Including the Garbage) Out of Reach. While it may seem obvious to keep your cleaning products tucked away safely one of the biggest threats to a dogs health in your home is the garbage. If your dog gets into the garbage you can use some baby proof locks to seal it, or put it away in the closet or garage while you’re gone.

The project surveyed 107 survivors of domestic abuse across the country, to better understand the link between domestic abuse and animal abuse.

The figures have been released to coincide with the Dogs Trust reaching a milestone of 2,000 dogs fostered on its Freedom Project, which supports people fleeing domestic abuse by providing temporary accommodation for their dogs.

Recommended

  • Cuban woman, 37, accuses Diego Maradona of rape
  • Video appears to show NFL player attacking his ex-girlfriend
  • From typhoid to boxing deaths: Inside a government-run Native American school
Amy Hyde, Freedom Project Manager at Dogs Trust said:“Unfortunately, this new research revealing further links between animal abuse and domestic abuse is not shocking to us.

Make a Tug Toy From Old Clothes. Does your dog love to play tug? Got some extra t-shirts lying around? Make your own toy by braiding one of your old t-shirts into a tug toy rather than throwing them out.

“We see first-hand the myriad ways that perpetrators use dogs to coerce, control, physically harm and threaten within abusive relationships.

“This is incredibly frightening for survivors and is often aimed to leave people isolated. We have heard of perpetrators not letting survivors walk their dogs alone, stopping them from accessing vet care for their dogs or being able to spend money on dog food and even repeatedly threatening to harm, kill or ‘get rid’ of their dogs.

“To instil fear and entrap, perpetrators prey on the strong bonds people have with their beloved pets - making these animals vulnerable to abuse because of the psychological and emotional damage that this causes.”

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Having a pet in the home can actually lower a child’s likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33 percent. Children exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.

The research project was carried out by Dr Mary Wakeham and also found that 97 per cent of professionals working in the domestic abuse charity sector also said that animals are often used as a means of controlling someone experiencing violence.Kimberly, a survivor supported by the Freedom Project, had her dogs Penny and Rusty fostered after she suffered abuse from a former partner.

She said: “My ex-partner’s mentally & physically controlling behaviour became gradually worse as time went on - I became totally dependent on him and it also impacted my dogs.

If you have a hard time brushing your dog's teeth, squeeze some enzymatic doggie toothpaste onto a Nylabone or rope toy and let your pooch go to town on it.

“If I reacted, he would know how to get to me even more – through my dogs. I just knew I had to get out. I moved out, took my dogs to two separate family members and went into the women’s refuge – that’s where I heard about the Freedom Project who fostered my two babies.

“I found the day they came home overwhelming. They settled back in after just one day, I felt complete again and it felt good and ‘normal’.

The Freedom Project was launched in 2004 and currently operates across the whole of Scotland and in 30 counties across England.

Keep Your Gum & Candy Stored Away. Many gums & candies include xylitol, a sugar substitute that’s highly toxic and can be fatal to dogs. Keep all candies and gum far out of reach of your pets at all times. Here’s a list of common household items that are known to contain xylitol.

This year the Freedom Project will have fostered 2,000 dogs and helped 1825 people since launching.

During the pandemic, incidents of domestic abuse soared and the charity fostered 64% more dogs across the country in 2020 and 2021, compared to the previous two years.

Ruth Davison, Refuge Chief Executive Officer, said:”Refuge is delighted to continue working in partnership with the Dogs Trust Freedom Project; women, children and their pets have the right to live free from abuse and fear.

Recommended

Use a plastic pitcher to store and dispense dog food. It takes less time and keeps the food fresher. I use the MUJI rice storage dispenser, which comes with a handy measuring cup.

  • What happened at Babylon High? Alumnae share shock abuse claims backing whistleblower
  • Woman posts letter exposing teacher she says groomed her 12 years ago
  • Loophole in the law leaves patients at risk of abuse and sexual assault
“At Refuge we know that many perpetrators of domestic abuse also harm pets – who are important and much-loved members of so many families in this country.

“Women tell us their partners control and frighten them by threatening to harm or kill their pets, or women experiencing economic abuse tell us of their fear when their perpetrators refuse to pay vet bills or prevent them and their pets from accessing other essentials.”

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: One survey found that 81 percent of cat owners let their felines sleep on the bed, compared to 73 percent of dog owners.