August 14, 2006
ALMOST two-thirds of domestic violence victims stay in dangerous home situations because they fear for their pets.
Moves are under way, however, to provide both with sanctuary.
The Office for Women, the Animal Welfare League and the RSPCA are seeking funding for the Protected Pet Project, to be launched soon in SA. The move follows a telephone survey which showed 61 per cent of SA domestic violence victims delayed leaving relationships because of their pets.
The survey, conducted last year by the Office for Women, also found three in four women would not leave unless temporary accommodation could be found for pets.
Office for Women director Sandy Pitcher, who will discuss the findings at an Against Abuse conference in Adelaide today, said: ". . . if you are a victim of domestic violence and are isolated, the animal becomes an even more valuable companion".
Perpetrators knew this and used it as a strategy to control family members, including children.
League spokeswoman Samantha Catford said the project would provide safe and affordable accommodation for pets of women and children leaving violent homes.
"Women can access this service through a referral from domestic violence services," she said.
Utah State University Professor Frank Ascione, a leading researcher on the link between animal cruelty and family violence, will speak at today's conference.
SA Police and Domestic Violence Helpline representatives will attend the conference.
* Against Abuse is at Way Hall, UnitingCare Wesley, 10 Pitt St, Adelaide, from 9.30am to 4.30pm.