Assisting Survivors With Their Pets During the COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond

Published by: Zoë Agnew-Svoboda, Nancy Blaney, Melinda D. Merck, Mary Lou Randour

The lives and safety of survivors and their companion animals are inextricably intertwined. When abusers use violence in the home as a means of controlling and threatening their partners, it is not unusual for it to be directed at the victim’s companion animal as well. Pet abuse is one of the forms of intimidation listed in the Power and Control Wheel and is a factor associated with battering. Many jurisdictions now recognize the safety implications for survivors and their pets by providing protection for both in protection orders but more  assistance and resources are needed to provide safety.

Victims of domestic abuse are often unwilling to leave their companion animals behind when they seek shelter from their abusers. Leaving has become more difficult in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Victims who are quarantined with their abusers have fewer opportunities and resources to seek help with their pets.  Knowing that many survivors are unwilling to leave a dangerous situation without their companion, advocacy organizations must be prepared to assist victims with strategies to protect and house their pets.

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