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Why Pets Mean So Much: The Human-Animal Bond in the Context of Intimate Partner Violence

Developed by the Animal Welfare Institute, this Technical Assistance Guidance explores ways that victim advocates can assist survivors of domestic violence and their pets when seeking safety and refuge from abuse.

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Why Pets Mean So Much: The Human-Animal Bond in the Context of Intimate Partner Violence by the Animal Welfare Institute for the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (September 2014)

According to the 2013-2014 National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of U.S. households, or 82.5 million homes, include a companion animal. In most cases, these companion animals are cherished members of the family. However, up to 70% of domestic violence victims report having a pet, and when a batterer causes violence in the home, it can be inflicted on pets as well (Ascione, 1997; Loring & Bolden-Hines, 2004). Abusers threaten, injure, and at times kill pets in order to control their victims and to create an environment of fear within the home. The close relationship that battered women and their children feel toward their companion animals complicates their willingness to leave a violent situation, potentially putting their pets at risk of violence or death. Developed by the Animal Welfare Institute, this Technical Assistance Guidance explores ways that victim advocates can assist survivors of domestic violence and their pets when seeking safety and refuge from abuse. Readers may also be interested in the DVAM Campaign, National Sheltering Animals and Families Together (SAF-T) Day, and media talking points form, How and why are domestic violence and animal abuse related?

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