Abuse of animals

International and Swedish research shows a link between violence in a close relationship and abuse of animals. People who work with abuse victims have also witnessed how the abuser uses violence against the animals to abuse the family. This goes beyond abuse of pets, like cats, dogs and small animals. It includes horses and other farm animals, who can be subjected to some level of neglect or violence in different forms. Many abuse victims who want to leave the relationship are scared to leave their animals with the abuser. This may make them choose to stay in a relationship that is abusive.

Like most emergency shelters, Ada is not able to take in animals. VOOV (Veterinary Concern for Victims of Domestic Violence) works to place animals in temporary homes while a woman is living at a shelter or is unable to have the animal with her. In order for the animal to be placed in a home, the woman must be the registered owner of the animal. It is not possible for the woman to contact VOOV directly. She must instead contact a women’s shelter, victim support centre, the police or Social Services for placement of the animal. More information is available on VooV:s website.

If ownership is unclear, it is a good idea to take the animal with you when you leave the relationship. Then it is up to the abuser to prove that they are entitled to the animal. Please consult an animal rights lawyer if you need to take an animal with you and cannot prove your ownership.

Under the Animal Welfare Act, animals may not be subjected to unnecessary suffering, such as violence or neglect. If an animal is being mistreated, you can contact the County Administrative Board for advice and, if relevant, to submit a report of animal mistreatment on the part of the abuser. You can learn more about the link between intimate partner violence and violence against animals in the family here.