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“The animals are all I have”

Domestic Violence, Companion Animals, and Veterinarians

In: Society & Animals
Authors:
C.M. Tiplady Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, School of Veterinary Science University of Queensland Gatton, Queensland Australia

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D.B. Walsh School of Social Work and Human Services, University of Queensland Brisbane, Queensland Australia

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C.J.C. Phillips Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, School of Veterinary Science University of Queensland Gatton, Queensland Australia

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Abstract

This article describes a study of thirteen women who had lived with companion animals during a domestic violence relationship. The women were interviewed in order to investigate how animals were affected by the violence, as well as how veterinarians were involved. Most women reported that companion animals had been abused or neglected by their partners, and they had delayed leaving due to concerns for animals left in the home. Affected animals most commonly demonstrated protection of the woman, and avoidance or aggression towards the partner. Only one woman confided to a veterinarian that she and her animals were living with domestic violence, and in four cases women’s partners had prevented them from accessing veterinary care. It is recommended that veterinarians are educated on issues regarding animal guardianship during domestic violence to enhance their ability to provide knowledgeable and compassionate support when confronted with these cases in practice.

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