What happens to pets in domestic violence relationships

PETS can be domestic violence victims too.

It's the message the RSPCA is sending the community as their Pets in Crisis program recorded double the amount of pets taken into care as their owners escaped violent relationships last year.

The program is designed to give pets a similar kind of emergency accommodation as their owners who had escaped domestic violence.

The number of pets from domestic violence the RSPCA cared has been gradually increasing every year, but last year the numbers doubled.

Pets in Crisis provides women with a release from their 'hostage' situations and enables families to seek refuge but also ensures pets are protected from violence or abandonment.

It means they are able to be reunited with their families when they are in a safe environment.

The program teamed up with DVConnect in 2005 to help deal with women and children who felt trapped in violent domestic situations because of concerns for their pets. 

"Women often delay leaving a violent relationship because they're worried what will happen to their pets” DVConnect manager Di Mangan said.

"Unfortunately refuges are not equipped to take animals and women have been reluctant to leave if they cannot find or afford emergency pet care.”

The service took 126 animals into care in 2015 compared to 236 last year.

Foster care coordinator Julie Herbert said the program was struggling to cope.  

"However it remains our long term commitment to help address the disturbing links between animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence,” Ms Herbert said.

Last year Pets in Crisis provided temporary accommodation for 147 dogs, 68 cats, nine kittens, four birds, four guinea pigs, three reptiles and a horse.

In total the animals spent 7356 days in care and cost the RSPCA over $230,000.

  • For 24-hour support in Queensland phone DVConnect on 1800 811 811, MensLine on 1800 600 636 or the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

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