Domestic Violence affects family pets

Goldendoodle World photos Domestic violence is at an all time high here in the United States. While many people believe domestic violence only affects the humans who are involved, it also affects the family pets. Horrific crimes against family pets occur when a spouse or loved one goes off on the deep edge and decides to get revenge by either maiming, murdering or causing serious injury to the family pet as a way to "get even".
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Domestic violence has always been a problem here in America. But it isn't just a problem that affects humans. It also affects the family pets who can be caught in the middle. You can watch it on the Discovery channel nearly every day, which is basically why I no longer watch the Discovery channel. It pains me dearly to see the horrific crimes that are commited upon innocent animals who have no way to defend themselves.
Take for instance a man who burned his girlfriend's kittens to death on his charcoal grill because she packed her bags and left for her mother's house after they became combative during a very heated argument. The man later called his girlfriend to tell her what he had done. The woman, rushing home, saw the smoke coming from the grill and to her horror, there lay her kittens dead. Burned alive. Of course the police were called and the man was arrested, but he didn't serve much jail time. Had it been his girlfriend laying upon the grill, he would have gotten life in prison or the death penalty. As it was, they were merely kittens. I am sure he got nothing but a slap on the wrist. A paltry fine for his horrific deed.
Unfortunately, here in America, crimes against animals doesn't fetch much jail time. It doesn't surprise me that so many animals die at the hands of people who are just teetering in the brink of being a killer for people. When a person is aggressive and hard core enough to kill or maim or severely injure an animal, there's definiately something going on with that person that isn't right. But these people barely get jail time and know that for now, the courts will give them nothing more than a slap on the wrist which is why they do it. Domestic violence is a problem for American society. Even if the family pet isn't killed, many are severely injured when they get caught up in the battles between family disputes. Sometimes the person who causes injury to the family pet, during a domestic dispute, does so to "cause emotional duress" to the person who has bonded the closest with the animal. Some do so to keep the intended victim from leaving him or her and some do it for pure spite. Many who cause injury to a family pet during a domestic dispute have anger issues they are unable to control.
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It is unthinkable to most of us that anyone would cause injury on purpose to their family pet. They love us unconditionally regardless of how dysfunctional we may or may not be. Perhaps that is the dogs' downfall. Too compassionate. Too caring. Too trusting of humans of whom some do not deserve such love, care or trust. So far, only three states -- Maine, New York and Vermont -- have enacted laws permitting family pets to be included in protective court orders involving cases of domestic violence. Such court orders are meant to shield animals as well as spouses and domestic partners from abusers. An additional 12 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, have considered "pet protection" legislation. It is such a shame that all of our states have not hopped upon this protective bandwagon. Every state should enact laws to protect family pets as well as animals, in general. We need laws to recognize the deep significance of strong relationships held between human and pet. All of our states need to acknowledge that for most people, a pet is part of the family and therefore can become a victim – and a pawn -- in the horrendous cycle of domestic violence.
Facts:
  • Seven out of every 10 families with minor children include a pet -- more than 64 million households in total.
  • Research shows that pet abuse is a predictor of domestic violence. Paying attention to pet abuse can save human lives.
  • Studies show that up to 71% of battered women report their pet was threatened, harmed, or killed by their partners.
  • A national survey found that 85% of women's shelters indicated that women seeking safety described incidents of pet abuse in their families.
  • Batterers threaten, abuse, or kill animals to demonstrate and confirm power and control over the family, to isolate the victim and children, and to prevent the victim from leaving or coerce her/him to return.
  • Domestic violence shelters and animal protection organizations have begun partnering to develop "safe havens" for pets of domestic violence victims because many victims delay leaving out of fear for their pets' safety. All too often, batterers punish victims for leaving by killing their pet. Yet, with the help of over 100 safe haven programs currently operating today in the U.S., many victims no longer have to choose between their safety and their pets.
Like many professionals working to protect victims of domestic violence, Jeanne Yeager, Executive Director of Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence in Maryland, supports adding pets to protection orders. "Such measures will provide much needed protection to clients with pets. Pet protection orders will offer victims of abuse an alternative to staying in abusive relationships for fear of what will happen to their pets if they leave. I agree that more needs to be done. As a matter of fact, most shelters do not allow family pets to be brought with the person seeking shelter which can cause those in need of protection, to not leave an abusive situation. Not wanting to leave the family pet behind can make a person stay in a situation they should not stay in. Unfortunately, as incredible and cruel as most cases sound, the Human Society has more than 200 such cases on their list that could easily be considered among the 100 most extreme," said Bartlett, deputy manager of animal cruelty issues for the Humane Society of the United States and is among those who came up with the idea for an annual list of the 100 worst cases of animal cruelty.
A lovely doodle from our doodle world
For most of us, deliberate injury to our family pet would not even be considered. For those with questionable mental health, expressing their outrage upon an animal who can't protect him or herself is far too easy. But seeing horrible things happen to animals at the hands of people is nothing new to Nancy Cummings, president of SARAH Inc., a Stratford-based animal rescue organization that cares for injured and handicapped dogs.
"I don't think there's any way to explain how people can do these kinds of things to any living, breathing being," Cummings said. "But it seems to be the nature of the human beast. If a person is going to choke a rabbit or shoot a puppy, they need to be locked up and given serious attention and rehabilitation. I agree it's just a first step when people hurt animals because how do you know who will be next children, old people, spouses. If they can do such horrendous things to little furry creatures who can't defend themselves, it's obvious they just like to prey on the weak."
We need tougher laws and the only way that can happen is for people to lobby for them. Writing letters to your congressman is a start. Laws need to be changed nationwide. It's not just this or that person's problem. It's everyones' problem. We need everyone to get involved to make changes in our legal system. Every person can make a difference, even if they don't believe so. Mass murderers Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Albert DeSalvo (the "Boston Strangler") and other serial killers committed heinous acts of animal cruelty before brutally maiming and killing their human victims. We need more people to get involved at protecting the innocent.

Breeder/author: Dee Gerrish 2007

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