United Kingdom: Protecting pets from domestic violence

In the UK, as in many parts of the world, families that suffer from domestic violence often have pets in the home, and these animals may also become victims of the same fear and cruelty suffered by their human companions.

Pets caught in the middle of domestic violence

While refuges for victims of domestic violence take in women and their children, few will take in pets. Animals have to be either left behind and risk suffering at the hands of a violent partner or be given away or even put down.

Often victims of domestic violence will remain in a violent relationship rather than have to abandon their family pets. In homes of domestic violence, pets are often threatened, injured or killed by a violent partner as a means of keeping power and control over their significant other or children and to make sure they don’t leave.

Creating safe havens for animals

IFAW believes that nobody should have to tolerate violence or sacrifice their beloved pet in order to escape abuse. Nor should animals face cruelty or death because other options don’t exist. That is why we support Paws for Kids, a UK organization that provides pet fostering services for animal victims of domestic violence.

While many families may fear what will happen to their animals if they leave home for a refuge, Paws for Kids steps in to offer temporary care for pets and peace of mind for families at a time of dire need, until they are settled in a safe place and able to take their animals back. Most victims of abuse are women and children, for whom their pets provide emotional support and stability. Knowing their pets are safe is often a great comfort.

By working to protect the animal victims of domestic violence, we are building safer communities for animals and those who love them.