Pets and farm animals: collateral victims of domestic abuse

From a Salon article on domestic animal abuse

. . . . .researchers are beginning to understand that “with devastating frequency, animals are the collateral victims of domestic violence.” Abusers “torture or kill [dogs and cats, lizards and rabbits, horses and other farm animals], or threaten to do so, in order to maintain control of their spouses.” Even more upsetting? It works.

As Phil Arkow, head of the human-animal bond programs at the American Humane Association, is quoted as saying, “Pets have become pawns in the battle of power and control that marks domestic violence … [The abused] not only lose the sense of safety and comfort their animals provide but all too frequently feel unable to leave.”

Randall Lockwood, ASPCA senior vice president for anti-cruelty initiatives, reports that he has heard accounts “from victim advocates in all fifty states of a husband or boyfriend who assembles the family and makes them watch as he bludgeons or beats the family dog, cat, horse, cow, bunny, hamster, gerbil — with the message of, ‘You could be next.'” The first published study on the subject, which involved 38 women at a domestic violence shelter, found that 71 percent of the women who owned pets said that their partners had “threatened, tortured — even killed — one or more of their animals during the relationship.” Subsequent studies have confirmed that, unfortunately, it’s a trend. . . . .

The Case of the Battered Pet from O Magazine