Often the first target for physical violence in the home is the family dog or cat. The second target is the partner or child.
Perpetrators of domestic violence also often control their victims by threatening, torturing, or killing the victim’s animals - in fact, up to 70% of domestic and family violence victims also report abuse of a companion animal.
These animals suffer extreme trauma and sometimes death at the hands of an abuser, with the damaging emotional and psychological affects of domestic violence lasting long after the violence has stopped.
Yet here in Australia, despite living beings who can feel pain, animals are classified as “property” under the law.
This means that what happens to an animal once a violent relationship ends will usually come down to which person has a better claim of ‘ownership’ (e.g. whose name the animal is registered under), rather than what is in the best interests of the animal. This puts the animal at extreme risk of remaining with the violent offender.
Animals are domestic violence victims in their own right, that’s why along with our MP Emma Hurst we’re campaigning for:
- Explicitly listing animal abuse as a domestic violence offence
- Allowing victims to take custody of their companion animals
- Ensuring abusers are unable to pass a working with children or disability services check
- Including animals on ADVOs
- Ensuring all rental accommodation becomes companion animal friendly
Only when we address all aspects of abuse can we make real steps toward ending Australia’s domestic violence epidemic.