The connection between pets and domestic abuse
We know through our experience, and from research, that there’s a significant connection between pets and domestic abuse. Pets can be a barrier for someone escaping abuse, and are often used by perpetrators as a tool for coercive control.
Our Survey* in 2019 found that many survivors of domestic abuse had experienced their pets being abused, or their ability to care for their pets restricted.
97% of professionals said that pets are also often used as a means of controlling and coercing someone experiencing domestic abuse.
9 out of 10 professionals said that some survivors won't leave their home without knowing their pet will be safe
89% of professionals were aware of domestic abuse cases where pets had also been abused
59% of professionals knew of cases where pets, or an owner's ability to care for a pet, had been impacted by economic abuse
The bond we share with our pets is always an important one, particularly when we're going through difficult times. Sadly, abusers also recognise this bond, and use it to gain power and control over their partners or family members. This can range from threatening to harm the pet, to stopping them being able to care for their pet the way they’d like to.
We know that many abusers exploit the bond we have with our pets to gain power and control. It’s common for pets to be threatened, or even harmed, by perpetrators.
Emotional or psychological abuse might include abusers selling or rehoming a beloved pet, or calling the owners names, such as a 'bad dog owner'.
Over a third of the dogs referred to our Freedom Project have also experienced physical abuse. This is extremely frightening and traumatic for their owners to witness. We work closely with the Links Group, who aim to raise awareness within the vet community of non-accidental injury.
Many abusers will control access to finances, and stop dog owners accessing essential veterinary care or food for their dogs. Our service is completely free to access, we'll arrange for a health check and organise any vaccinations or flea and worming treatment that might be needed.
Given the close connection between pets and domestic abuse, our service is vital to ensure both people and their pets can escape to safety. Our Freedom Project is designed specifically for survivors of domestic abuse, and we operate under strict service standards set through the Links Pet Fostering Group.
*Pets and Domestic Abuse Professionals Survey 2019