ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The connection between domestic violence and animal abuse is abig, ongoing problem in New Mexico, and a number of differentgroups are trying desperately to call attention to it.
Many people refer to it as "The Link."
"It's been a recognized phenomenon for hundreds of years, but westill have a lot of folks that don't know about it," said TammyFiebelkorn, a volunteer with the annual governor's conferencefocused on the phenomenon.
Numerous studies show domestic violence offenders often useviolence against animals as a way to torture their human victimswhile asserting power and control.
Between 50 and 71 percent of women seeking shelter fromdomestic violence reported their abuser had hurt or killed at leastone family pet.
"It was horrific. That's the only word I can think of," onevictim told News 13, requesting her identity not be revealed.
According to the victim, who asked to go by the name Sam, theabuse began shortly after she got married to a man who becamejealous of her dog.
Eventually the jealousy turned to violence.
"I knew that he knew the way to really hurt me was to go aftermy dog," Sam said. "At that point he left me and went after him.(The dog) had so much blood coming out of his nose and mouth."
According to Sam, the dog survived the initial attack. Butshortly after the couple divorced, Sam's ex-husband came back andkilled the dog.
"Our first step in stopping this Link is educating the publicabout the fact that it exists," Fiebelkorn said.
State lawmakers responded to a push to recognize the Link, bypassing a joint memorial in the last 30 day legislative sessiondeclaring February 10 New Mexico Link Awareness Day.
Another push to modify the state's Family Violence ProtectionAct died on the Senate floor. The change would have formallyincluded animals in orders of protection.
Pets are not currently mentioned in paperwork for restrainingorders. Changing the law would have made it easier for domesticviolence victims to escape dangerous situations, knowing their petswould be OK.
It's a big factor when it comes to getting victims to feelcomfortable enough to get help, according to police.
"Us investigating these types of cases, you do definitely seethat," Albuquerque Police Department Sgt. Paul Szych said. "Forpeople who don't have children, a lot of times their pets are theirkids."
According to Animal Protection of New Mexico, abusers oftenuse animals to demonstrate their power and control.
"I've had calls regarding animals as large as horses. Horsesthat were cruelly castrated in front of the victim as a show ofpower and force," said APNM cruelty complaints manager SherryMangold.
"The really frightening one is where the person remains inthe situation for fear of what will happen," Mangold said.
Supporters of the push to include animals in orders ofprotection say they will push for the change again in the nextlegislative session.
Fiebelkorn will be amongst a large group of volunteers, lawenforcement officers, lawyers and judges meeting in June toidentify better ways to identify and stop abuse, investigate casesand provide proper treatment for abusers.
Three Albuquerque veterans remember vividly the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the U.S. into World War II 72 years ago Saturday.
A high school football player caught on camera punching an opponent and giving him a concussion during the state semifinals will not be suspended from the championship game by the New Mexico Activities Association.
The Sandoval County sheriff's sergeant struck by a car during a crash investigation on snow-slickened Interstate 25 Thursday has died.
After getting out of federal prison early this week it looks like former state Sen. Manny Aragón isn't at a halfway house after all. He's back at his own house in the South Valley.
The owner and an employee of a local smoke shop are in federal custody accused of selling spice at the Rio Rancho store.
The New Mexico State Police officer who fired his weapon at van filled with kids during a traffic stop gone bad has been fired.