Why We Can’t Forget The Pets

Kathy’s Legacy’s mission is to serve children and pets impacted by domestic violence. However, it is not often you hear about pets in relation to domestic violence. Unfortunately, the reality is pets play significant roles in DV situations but often go unnoticed.

Seventy percent of domestic violence victims report having a pet. Many pet owners consider pets as members of the family, with women being the primary caregivers of the pets.1 As a result, this makes the primary caregivers especially vulnerable, and abusers are able to exploit this emotional attachment as a way to punish a victim. Animal abuse is used to maintain terror or fright in a victim while also eliminating the comfort and support that pets provide. When animals are threatened or abused the abuser threatens that the victim will be next.

As a result, many victims delay leaving their abusive situation in fear of leaving their pets behind because only 3% of DV shelters allow victims and their pets to seek shelter together.3 Even when victims do leave their situation, “25% report that they have returned to an abusive partner out of concern for their pet.”

In San Diego, only service animals and emotional support animals are allowed at some domestic violence shelters. Kathy’s Legacy created the Lady’s Legacy program to support victims and their pets. We are committed to establish a support system for victims and their pets to co-shelter when leaving an abusive situation. We are working with our community partners to provide shelter for pets while the victim is receiving the services needed to move forward.

  1. National Link Coalition
  2. “Don’t Forget the Pets Presentation.” Red Rover and Greater Good, n.d.
  3. Bershadker, Matt and Bob Dole. ASPCA. 31 October 2016. https://www.aspca.org/blog/pets-play-critical-role-safety-domestic-violence-victims.


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