To most of us with pets, they're part of the family and we treat them as such. But in homes where there is violence, the family pet may become just another object to threaten or harm in order to keep the family members who are being abused from leaving.
Most shelters will not allow you to bring your pets with you when you leave an abusive partner, that is until now.
In Las Vegas, Nevada there is a place called Noah's Animal House. A place where people who need to go to domestic violence shelters can also bring the family pet if they feel the pet will come to harm if they leave. The Shade Tree Shelter is adding a place where resident's who stay at the shelter can temporarily house their family pets as well.
There will be veterinary services available and foster parents willing to take special pets such as farm animals that need more space.
Children who live in abusive families and also see pet abuse suffer even more trauma as a result of seeing their pets injured, or threatened with the possibility of injury.
Many times the abuser will threaten, harm or even kill a family pet in order to punish or control a child. A child of abuse is twice as likely to grow up to become an abuser him or herself.
Many pets who are abused will be very timid when the abuser gets near them, sometimes urinating on themselves out of fear, which will make the abuser angry and start the pattern of abuse all over again. Some animals will get aggressive after being abused.
From the HSUS - Family Violence and Animal Cruelty:
"My first client came in very apologetic and said, 'I have to go back home.' I tried to tell her she didn't,... she said, 'no, you don't understand.' She pulled out a picture that her mother forwarded her that her husband had sent...They were pictures of him chopping off the ears of her dog with gardening shears.
'I have to go home...If I want to save my dog's life and the lives of the other animals...I have to go home...' We never heard from her again."
-Wisconsin Domestic Violence Center Safe Haven For Pets - HSUS
Many abused people put off leaving their abuser because they are afraid of what will happen to their pets, and many times pets are harmed when the abused partner leaves.
85% of battered women who go to domestic violence shelters report that their is animal abuse in their home. Being that only a small number of women actually seek help from domestic violence shelters, the number of animals actually being abused is very high.