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Keywords:

  • animal abuse;
  • dogs;
  • domestic violence;
  • interpersonal violence;
  • intimate partner violence

Objective  To investigate the effect of intimate partner violence (IPV) on companion animal welfare.

Design  Self-selected telephone survey of people meeting the criteria.

Methods  Members of the Australian public with experience of IPV and concurrent companion animal ownership were invited to telephone a researcher for a semi-structured interview.

Results  In total, 26 Australian women reported one or more companion animals in the household being verbally and/or physically abused by their male partner, usually with prolonged effects on animal behaviour; 92% indicated that they had been unwilling to discuss the animal abuse with a veterinarian. Many were unaware of animal accommodation services for people fleeing violence and those who did know about these were unwilling to use them, citing their bond with the animals as the main reason. Animals targeted for abuse were most likely to be dogs and owned by women rather than men, children or both partners.

Conclusion  Animals can be severely affected by domestic violence situations and many people experiencing violence are unwilling to confide in veterinarians or seek help from animal shelters.