In about half of domestic violence cases, victims delay or do not escape their homes due to fear of their batterer or abuser, initiating or increasing violence upon their pets. Consequently the abuse and violence continues unabated; not only against the spouse but sometimes against children, elderly relatives, pets and livestock.
The perpetrator will inflict cruelty to an animal in order to punish, control, manipulate or take revenge upon the spouse (for example, a wife threatens to leave her husband due to repeated acts of abuse upon her. To prevent her leaving, the husband kills her dog in order to convince her he will also kill the cat if she leaves). Animal cruelty may include shooting, beating, burning, maiming and throwing from heights; sometimes in front of the family in order to enhance the effect. Animal abuse can tell a tale of ongoing spousal abuse or can predict it. Studies show that up to 70 percent of battered women report their abuser committing acts of violence against their pets. Conversely, a domestic abuse situation could mean that animal cruelty is already occurring.
We need to take evidence of animal cruelty even more seriously because of the ramifications involved. Suspicious sights and sounds and, for example, neighborhood stories must be reported to the proper authorities. Your local law enforcement agency can handle the matter via criminal investigation, arrest or court order. During the course of that investigation, the existence of domestic abuse may surface, and both it and the pet abuse can be dealt with.
Many municipalities can issue court orders that are designed to protect the abused person and animal. The document can order the defendant to stay away from the victim’s home or workplace and relinquish endangered pets to safe hands. Other actions can be addressed as well. The defendant will be subject to arrest for disobeying any of the provisions of the order. Checking your county court may reveal further legal remedies.
Animal Cruelty is often punishable as a felony. It is generally defined as a behavior that intentionally causes pain, suffering, distress or death to an animal. The law does not apply to socially condoned acts, such as legal hunting, trapping, factory farming and certain agricultural and laboratory actions. Also, a few states don’t have animal cruelty laws due to the animals being considered property.
Circumstances may dictate that the offender be aggressively prosecuted. Knowing that animal cruelty charges and crimes-against-persons charges can be pursued may very well enable more effective punishment and resolution.
Steve Bergquist lives in Penn Valley.