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How can I protect my pet from domestic violence?

Researchers who have studied the correlation between domestic violence and the abuse of family pets have learned a lot in the past two decades. Below are some facts about the two and a proposed safety plan for victims of domestic violence to protect their pets.

Research has shown that there is often concurrent animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence by an abuser in a family. Anywhere from 49 percent to 71 percent of women who were battered by their partners report threats, harm or death to their pets caused by their spouses and partners.

One survey indicated that 85 percent of shelters for domestic violence victims had women whose pets were also abused. Abusers who harm pets were also more violent and controlling toward their human victims.

Nearly half of some women, according to some studies, delay leaving a dangerous living situation out of fear for their pets' safety. Those who abuse pets are more likely to go on to batter their spouses and partners, one expert in domestic violence discovered.

If you are in a domestic violence situation and are concerned for your pet's safety, it's vital to develop a safety plan for the pet that includes:

-- Keep on hand the number for the closest 24-hour emergency vet clinic.

-- Create a paper trail of ownership for your pet through vet records, licensing, adoption records, grooming, etc.

-- Maintaining emergency food and medicine supplies in the event the abuser withholds cash.

If you plan to leave, prearrange a safe shelter for your pet out of reach of your abuser. Pack a pet bag that includes:

-- Medication

-- Food

-- Ownership documents

-- Rabies tag

-- Veterinary and vaccination records

-- Leash and collar

-- Toys and bedding

If you are concerned about your own safety or the safety of your children and pets, discuss your concerns with a family law attorney who can assist you with obtaining an order of protection against your abuser.

Source: Animal Welfare Institute, "Safety Planning for Pets of Domestic Violence Victims," accessed Aug. 28, 2015

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