Battered pets and domestic violence: animal abuse reported by women experiencing intimate violence and by nonabused women

Violence Against Women. 2007 Apr;13(4):354-73. doi: 10.1177/1077801207299201.


Women residing at domestic violence shelters (S group) were nearly 11 times more likely to report that their partner had hurt or killed pets than a comparison group of women who said they had not experienced intimate violence (NS group). Reports of threatened harm to pets were more than 4 times higher for the S group. Using the Conflict Tactics Scale, the authors demonstrated that severe physical violence was a significant predictor of pet abuse. The vast majority of shelter women described being emotionally close to their pets and distraught by the abuse family pets experienced. Children were often exposed to pet abuse, and most reported being distressed by these experiences. A substantial minority of S-group women reported that their concern for their pets' welfare prevented them from seeking shelter sooner. This seemed truer for women without children, who may have had stronger pet attachments. This obstacle to seeking safety should be addressed by domestic violence agencies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animal Welfare*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic*
  • Battered Women / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sexual Partners
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States