I’ve received correspondence over the years as a domestic violence activist from women and men who were victims of violence. They’ve approached me to personally thank me for being their voice. Some victims have stopped by my home to tell me their stories. I want to share with you the stories of some of these victims (with permission). Names have been changed.
Jane was a mother of two. She attended church services on a regular basis, was active in her church community, and homeschooled her children. On the outside, this family was a picture of godliness, but behind closed doors the mother and children were being abused by the father. His abuse also extended to their dog who bit the father during an episode of violence against the mother. The batterer drove the dog to the woods and shot it with a rifle, leaving the dog unburied. He then returned home and told his wife that he’d killed her dog to prevent it from hurting anyone as the dog had developed a taste for blood.
Jenny, another domestic violence survivor, lost her dog and cat when she decided to flee her abuser. Though she had a restraining order, cops refused to arrest her husband after he repeatedly broke into her home. On two known occasions, her husband made threats to family and friends saying he wanted to kill Jenny and her children. Jenny took her children and fled in the middle of the night under the cover of darkness. Jenny was only able to pack items of necessity when she fled, which meant their pets had to remain behind. After she left, Jenny’s husband abandoned her dog on an isolated road. The dog was turned into a shelter where it died shortly after due to pneumonia. Her cat was abandoned but never found.
Jacky’s abuser beat her daughter in the woods leaving bruises on the child from her neck to her ankles. He threw Jacky at a door causing her to miscarry one of her twins. The abuser repeatedly beat Jacky on one occasion, slamming her head repeatedly into the wall and floor. When she regained consciousness she found her daughter locked in a closet, stuffed in a box (alive but terrified). Jacky’s abuser routinely threatened to rape her if she didn’t have sex with him. On one occasion, Jacky’s abuser hit her, detaching the corner of her lip. Jacky’s abuser was arrested for DV after she ended up in the hospital for multiple contusions and concussions. The abuse suffered in that home extended to Jacky’s cat. Her abuser would pick up Jacky’s cat and throw it at the wall, sometimes at distances of ten feet. When Jacky left, she couldn’t take her cat. She’s not seen her pet since and fears the cat is dead.
The victims in these stories suffered from PTSD and nightmares after leaving their pets behind. Oftentimes, victims will postpone leaving an abuser when faced with the decision to abandon the pets they love.
The number of shelters willing to take pets is severely limited, but this could soon change. A new bill, H. R. 1258, re-introduced in the House on March 04, 2015, by Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Massachusetts) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), called PAWS (Pet and Women Safety), would grant money to domestic violence shelters to establish programs for victims escaping with their pets.
If you’re a victim of DV, please follow this link and scroll to the bottom of the page for a list of victim resources and escape plans. Always remember to search the internet in incognito mode!
YOU CAN HELP
- Sign the petition: Pass the PAWS act (change.org)
- Donate to organizations who help victims with pets escape DV
Pet Haven Resources
- Animal Welfare Institue: Safe Havens
- Humane Society: Directory of Safe Havens for Animals Programs
- Ahimsa House. Attention Georgia victims: Ahimsa House provides emergency safe housing and veterinary assistance for victims’ pets statewide in Georgia, as well as information on including pets in safety planning and protective orders. Contact them at (404)452-6248 (source ).
Dedicated, in loving memory, to Flint, Sheba, Daisy, and Raven.