Topic: Pet abuse
Research on pet abuse and domestic violence.
“There are clearly significant levels of violence in a domestic environment to children, animals and partners across the globe and an increasing body of evidence is pointing to a link between them. But the scale of the cross-over is probably masked by relatively low levels of cross-reporting across the species barrier. We must do better.”
Jonathan Silk, Regional Director of the RSPCA (speaking at a conference in 2007).
Over half of UK households have a pet, but the RSPCA successfully convicts just under 2,000 people of cruelty to animals per year. This statistic has changed little over the past decade, although the number of complaints of cruelty has continued to rise. There are, as yet, no reliable statistics regarding the extent of the overlap between abuse of women and children and abuse of animals, but information from the RSPCA (see above) indicates a clear link between all types of abuse.
Two thirds of veterinary undergraduates have now been trained to identify non-accidental injuries in animals and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Guide to Professional Conduct now contains an annex on animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence and provides advice on breaching confidentiality under certain circumstances.
Where can you take your pet if you need to leave home because of domestic violence?
Many areas now have pet fostering schemes which enables victims of domestic violence to leave home without fear of their animals being harmed - for example, the Dogs' Trust's Freedom Project in London and in Yorkshire, and similar schemes from the RSPCA and Paws for Kids.
Since its launch in 2004, the Dogs' Trust Freedom Project in London has fostered over 115 dogs (and has arranged care for 82 cats) to help women and their children flee domestic violence situations and find temporary or permanent accommodation knowing their dog or cat is safe. The scheme proved so popular that the charity launched a similar scheme in Yorkshire in 2005. Since its launch the Yorkshire Freedom Project has fostered over 85 dogs in the North East - both schemes allowing over 250 families get their lives back on track.