The Abuse of Animals and Domestic Violence: A National Survey of Shelters for Women who are Battered

in Society & Animals


The maltreatment of animals, usually companion animals, may occur in homes where there is domestic violence, yet we have limited information about the prevalence of such maltreatment. We surveyed the largest shelters for women who are battered in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Shelters were selected if they provided overnight facilities and programs or services for children. Ninety-six percent of the shelters responded. Analysis revealed that it is common for shelters to serve women and children who talk about companion animal abuse. However, only a minority of respondents indicated that they systematically ask about companion animal maltreatment in their intake interview. We discuss the implications of these results for domestic violence programs, animal welfare organizations, and programs serving children of women who are battered by their partners.


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