Pet abuse common in homes with domestic violence

Sixty-eight percent of U.S. homes have a pet, according to the National Pet Owners Survey in 2013-2014. That is about 82.5 million homes, and in many of them, these pets are considered part of the family.

It is estimated, however, that 48 to 71 percent of women who are abused by domestic violence also have had a pet that was abused or killed. Additionally, the abuse of a pet is one of four important predictors for a partner to become a perpetrator of domestic violence.

During the past two decades, several policies and programs have become active in order to address the overlap between animal abuse and domestic violence. Twenty-nine state, as well as Puerto Rice and the District of Columbia, allow pets to be listed on protection orders. In addition, several domestic violence shelters now allow pets, or at least will ask questions about the alleged victim's pets.

In many domestic violence cases, the alleged victims need help getting an Order of Protection. The alleged perpetrators may need help fighting an Order of Protection. In many cases, the allegations are not true and are simply a means of accomplishing another objective, such as winning a child custody case.

Both sides of a domestic violence case need legal representation. In many cases, the evidence in the case will come down to "he said, she said." Domestic violence is one area of the law that cannot only influence a family law case, but can have significant criminal consequences as well. It's important to understand all of your legal options -- no matter which side of a domestic violence case you fall on.

Source: Animal Welfare Institute, "Animals & Family Violence," accessed Sep. 03, 2015

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