Domestic violence shelters across the Nation are taking action, recognizing that by keeping adults, children, and animal victims of abuse together, they are creating a true safe haven for the entire family.
For most Americans, pets are considered part of the family. In fact, 95 percent of pet owners feel that way. That also, unfortunately, means, animals are subjected to the same amount of family violence — if not more. Animals don’t have the same legal protections, and they can be used as pawns in the dynamics of family power.
Thousands of studies support the link between animal abuse and human abuse. Seventy-six percent of animal abusers also abuse a family member. Seventy percent of animal abusers have criminal records. More than 50 percent of schoolyard shooters have histories of animal cruelty.
Animal abuse — or witnessing it — is a well-documented part of the cycle of family violence. Children exposed to domestic violence are three times more likely to be cruel to animals. Exposure to violence has long-term effects on emotional health. Witnessing animal cruelty as a child was found to be the SINGLE BIGGEST PREDICTOR of future violence, making children eight times more likely to be violent.
Studies have found that the percentage of battered women who stay in abusive situations because of their pets ranged from one-fifth to nearly half. Most shelters do not accept pets, and families may be terrified of leaving a pet behind. One study showed that nearly 3/4 of battered women reported that their abuser had hurt or threatened to hurt a pet.
In response to a growing awareness of the link between animal abuse and domestic violence, a growing number of domestic violence shelters are offering help with housing animals. In New Mexico, the CARE program finds shelter for pets of families fleeing domestic violence: (844) 323-2273.
In the KRQE studio, Representatives from The Nest and the Family Crisis Center promoted their proactive and successful animal-inclusive facilities and discussed the critical need to protect the entire family — even the furry ones.
For more information, visit the Link’s website.