Pets used as domestic violence pawns

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 27, 2014 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

Emma Hamilton, an RSPCA pet foster carer, is taking care of four-month-old staffy cross b

Emma Hamilton, an RSPCA pet foster carer, is taking care of four-month-old staffy cross bull arab Sandy.Picture: David Clark
Source: News Limited

WHEN a woman dies at the hand of her partner, often those who respond to the scene also find the broken body of the family pet.

Voiceless and tortured, these animals have often been used as a pawn by abusers to force their victims to stay in violent situations.

Getting the animal out of an abusive home can help convince a victim to seek safety too so, for support workers, the pet can become a priority.

Under DV Connect’s Pets in Crisis program, more than 200 pets a year survive these homes to be fostered out by the RSPCA until their owners can take them back or until they are adopted by a new family.

Once the human victims find a safe refuge, they pay $1 a day for the animal’s care until they are able to care for it themselves.

DV Connect practice manager Yasmine Jozeljic said her staff found that there were women who refused to leave violent situations without their animals.

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“A perpetrator will use any tool they can to instil fear and pets are one way to do that,” she said.

Emma Hamilton, an RSPCA pet foster carer, is taking care of four-month-old staffy cross b

Emma Hamilton, an RSPCA pet foster carer, is taking care of four-month-old staffy cross bull arab Sandy Pic by David Clark
Source: News Limited

“Like children, these pets are helpless victims that don’t have any other choice.

“When people are murdered, you will often find that the pet has been killed earlier, as a threat to the victim.”

Ms Jozeljic said snakes, dogs, rats, geese, a goat and a horse had all been rescued through the program and the pets have to undergo psychological assessment after they leave a violent home.

Some of them are among the most traumatised animals seen by the RSPCA.

RSPCA Queensland spokesman Michael Beatty said the program had been running for 10 years, but that demand had never been so high.

“Almost all of them are put into anonymous foster care instead of trying to put them in a shelter,” he said.

“Some of the animals have issues when they’ve come from a violent situation.”

Mr Beatty said the program had placed significant strain on the RSPCA budget and they were looking for sponsors to ease the pressure.

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