Protecting Your Pet From Domestic Violence Could Help You Protect Yourself

Guest post by Karen Gould

What would you do if someone threatened to kill your pet? For many of us, the emotional bond is so strong that the question can’t be answered rationally. What wouldn’t we do?

Sadly, this scenario isn’t a hypothetical. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 71% of women experiencing domestic violence reported that their abusers had threatened, harmed or even killed a family pet. In much the same way that children can be used as pawns, animals in volatile homes are often used as a way for the abuser to exert power and control.

The link between violence against humans and animals is overwhelming. Research indicates that 48% of domestic violence survivors stay with their abusers because they fear what will happen to their pets. Unfortunately, in a home where abuse occurs, it is likely that pets will be part of the cycle of cruelty.

An organization called Middle Way PAWSS (Providing Animals and Women with Safe Shelter) has turned to a novel platform – crowdfunding – to see if hundreds of animal lovers working together can solve a problem that has seemed intractable.

If enough ordinary people can be found to support their campaign, PAWSS will provide a safe place for the pets of individuals seeking assistance from shelter Middle Way House. Pets admitted into the program will receive routine veterinary care and be placed with a trained PAWSS “Foster Parent.” Volunteers will be brought on board to provide pets the love and security they need during their stay.

It’s a model that has potential to radically change the way organizations support victims of domestic violence, and to hugely boost their success rates.

To get it off the ground, visit the crowdfunding campaign at StartSomeGood and make a donation of any size, then share the campaign with your social networks.

“As a former employee at a domestic violence shelter I can tell you how necessary this is,” said one supporter on StartSomeGood. “I have seen victims try to sleep in their cars with their animals. I have known an abuser to follow through with his promise to shoot the family pet if they did not return home – they did not return and he shot the animal. This is a serious situation because adults, children and animals are at risk.”

There’s nothing new about cruelty. However, we as communities are also equipped with enough compassion to overcome the actions of a dysfunctional few. Here’s hoping the new technology of crowdfunding can illuminate the problems as well as the solutions, and bring about a kinder, fairer future for abuse victims and their pets.

Do you have your own story of helping an animal in need? Sign this petition and share your animal adoption story here.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Freya H
Freya Habout a month ago

Over the last few months I have signed a number of petitions asking shelters and networks for battered women to allow them to bring pets. From what I have heard, more shelters are accepting pets or at least finding places for them.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 months ago


Jerome S
Jerome S2 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Lilly Sanders
Lilly Sanders3 years ago

OMG! This is a real thing! Seriously, I just read this book, a memoir of life on an Indian reservation where the man threatened to kill the woman's parrot pets. The book has a lot of domestic violence undertones. People are freaking out all over my twitter slamming the woman for putting down Native Americans, but I think the book is more about domestic violence and a pattern of behavior seen in the main character. She says her story is true and people are fighting her.

I am impressed to see you say pets can be used as pawns, like her parrots were. Her name is Little White Bird and her book about Native Americans and domestic violence is called The Dark Horse Speaks. It's really getting rough replies from people who don't seem to get it.


Anastasia Z.
Anastasia Z3 years ago

Thank you!

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Silvia Steinhilber

What a fantastic idea! I know I could never leave an abusive spouse if I had to leave my dog behind.