When Domestic Violence Strikes, Pets Are Victims Too

The opening of a new shelter established to provide accommodation for dogs that are victims of domestic violence shines a spotlight on a widespred but hidden problem:

‘A heroic Great Dane named Hank put himself on the line to save his guardian from domestic violence. The story inspired the Rose Brooks Center, the shelter that took Hank and his guardian in, to open Paws Place Pet Shelter, a shelter for animal victims of domestic violence. Paws Place will be the second one of its kind in the country. It’s great to see people recognize the healing ability animals posses, and the comfort they are able to provide in many situations. ‘

In my experience victims of domestic violence frequently refuse to leave their abusive situation fearful for the safety of their pets. Because most women’s shelters can not accommodate dogs and cats, the pet becomes in a sense  the hostage of the abuser. This shelter is an idea that’s well overdue.


About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim Chelom is a Registered Veterinarian, a writer and an educator


  1. cate

    When I was married, my abuser was very violent. One night when I was gone..he kicked my beloved dog to death. I watched her die when I came home. The police did nothing about this, as it was my word against his. He had admitted to me that he kicked her repetedly in the stomache. There are very few if at all no laws in which protect animals in these situation. I will never forget the Police telling me “sorry there is nothing we can do…”

    • That’s terrible! In that situation I think it would help to get SPCA involved. The Police are sometimes reluctant to help as it’s not really their department. Even if there are no witnesses, an autopsy can often reveal important forensic evidence.

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