Philosophy of AR > Abuse-Index
When Animal Abusers Get Older

STOCKTON - A sexual abuse victim once crafted a T-shirt naming the pets she loved as a child: Red, Honey, Dusty, Choo Choo, Brandy, Babe, Thumper, Candy and Tweetie.

Her father threatened to slaughter the dogs and cats if the girl ever gave up their secret.

She didn't. And he killed them anyway, one by one as she grew up, said Joelle Gomez of the Women's Center of San Joaquin County, where the victim - now in her mid-40s - sought help years ago.

The link between animal cruelty and domestic abuse is neither new nor unusual, experts say. But it's spotlighted this month in a proposed law that would include pets in protective court orders.

"Just like batterers have put threats and control over their spouses or girlfriends or children, they use pets as another pawn in it all," Gomez said. "There's some really sick ways that a batterer could use animal cruelty to keep a person submissive."

Experts say animal abuse is sometimes a sign of trouble to come.


The bill introduced by state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, in late February would allow courts to order batterers to stay away from victims and their pets. This could encourage women to leave abusive homes and take pets with them. Gomez said her staff is seeking agreements with animal shelters to temporarily house pets while domestic violence victims seek help.

Similar laws are being considered in a number of states, with support from domestic violence victims' advocates and humane societies.

"We don't want the pet to be the deciding factor for that woman" to stay in a bad situation, Gomez said.

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