Quick Read: Domestic Abuse & the Family Pet

Getting help for domestic abuse victims and their pets

My article in the Withernsea & District Community News
distributed to 9000 homes in East Yorkshire


I was so pleased to read articles Domestic Abuse in Your East Riding (Autumn 2021) and Withernsea District & Community News (October 2021).

Written with authority

Updated June 2023: Since writing this article for my pet niche column, I was unwittingly in a developing domestic abuse relationship which increased after moving in with this person. In 2024 I plan to begin a new website for domestic abuse and violence, especially post-relationship, trauma, mental health and therapies.

Related articles:

Original article:

First of all, we always assume only women are victims of domestic abuse, but men are too.

Secondly, my purpose in publishing domestic abuse in my newspaper column is to highlight that animals are victims too, and an abuser may target the victim’s pet. 

So yes, animals are victims too, but we rarely hear this side of domestic abuse.  Put simply, the abuser will coerce or control the victim using their pet as ammunition. A pet can suffer psychological abuse, face repeated trauma or be killed. 

Examples of coercive control using a pet:

  • Preventing veterinary care
  • Stopping food for your pet
  • Keeping a pet indoors only
  • Leaving doors or a gate open so a pet escapes
  • Injuring a pet through physical violence
  • Threatening to kill a pet
  • Killing a pet
  • Added June 2023: threatening not to give a pet medication or general care in your absence

The fear of leaving an abusive relationship is terrifying enough. Still, many victims will never flee their home because they are unable to take their pets with them, and refuges do not accept pets. 

Did you know that some animal charities offer a confidential and anonymous fostering service that will protect pets?

More animal charities and pet fosterers are needed around the U.K., but even so, there is help.

Animals found as strays or who have disappeared:

We draw conclusions about stray animals found with injuries or neglect, and often describe a “bad owner”? But an abuser will beat an animal, deprive that animal of food, and even dump a pet to keep control of the abused, subjecting that person to psychological trauma. You have already been verbally and psychologically abused beyond your imagination and feel worthless, and although you might protect your pet, you can be overpowered by an abuser physically.  

  • Neglected animals – the abuser prevents you from feeding your pet, or getting vet treatment
  • Strays found with injuries – the abuser will beat a pet belonging to the abused
  • Strays found with fear-based aggression – fear from being beaten
  • Strays with aggression – towards the abuser because of having protected the abused
  • A found animal with a microchip but calls to the registered owner are ignored – the abuser has control of the abused mobile or prevents the abused from responding to a call
  • Abandonment – the abuser will dump the abused pet creating psychologically trauma
  • Animals transported to a veterinary practice or rescue with signs of the above

Guidance for veterinary staff called: ‘recognise abuse in animals and humans’.  Its purpose is to help professionals be aware of those cases that are non-accidental injuries and identify domestic abuse. 

Please help victims, their children, and their pet/s escape domestic abuse:

  • Share this Quick Read article
  • Suggest domestic abuse fostering with your local pet charity
  • Volunteer as a pet foster parent

Life-saving support is needed for cats, dogs, small animals, reptiles, birds, and horses.

Your help could save a victim’s life as well as their pet’s. 

Article published in Withernsea & District Community News – October 2021


The reason I write and make YouTube videos is to help you and your pets from my experiences, and to take you through a journey of Green Living from worm composting and bokashi.

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