Domestic abuse an issue for pets, as well as humans (opinion) |

Domestic abuse an issue for pets, as well as humans (opinion)

Niki Congero
Tribune Opinion Columnist
Chico is 8 years old. He is a purebred rat terrier. He loves other dogs and playing fetch. Come visit Chico out at The El Dorado County Animal Services, 530-573-7925. For low-income spay-neuter services and other support, call the Lake Tahoe Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at 530-542-2857. Adoptions have been slow the last few weeks and the shelter has many cute, lovable furry friends that need a good home!
Courtesy Photo |

One of the more troubling issues that Lake Tahoe Humane Society deals with is domestic violence against pets. Here are some alarming facts, provided by the Humane Society of the United States, which will hopefully help create some awareness about this issue.

71 percent of pet-owning women entering women’s shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims; 32 percent reported their children had hurt or killed animals.

68 percent of battered women reported violence toward their animals; 87 percent of these incidents occurred in the presence of the women, and 75 percent in the presence of the children, to psychologically control and coerce them.

13 percent of intentional animal abuse cases involve domestic violence.

Between 25-40 percent of battered women are unable to escape abusive situations because they worry about what will happen to their pets or livestock should they leave.

Pets may suffer unexplained injuries, health problems, permanent disabilities at the hands of abusers, or disappear from home.

Abusers kill, harm, or threaten children’s pets to coerce them into sexual abuse or to force them to remain silent about abuse. Disturbed children kill or harm animals to emulate their parents’ conduct, to prevent the abuser from killing the pet, or to take out their aggressions on another victim.

In one study, 70 percent of animal abusers also had records for other crimes. Domestic violence victims whose animals were abused saw the animal cruelty as one more violent episode in a long history of indiscriminate violence aimed at them and their vulnerability.

Investigation of animal abuse is often the first point of social services intervention for a family in trouble.

For many battered women, pets are sources of comfort providing strong emotional support: 98 percent of Americans consider pets to be companions or members of the family.

Animal cruelty problems are people problems. When animals are abused, people are at risk.


More American households have pets than have children. We spend more money on pet food than on baby food. There are more dogs in the U.S. than people in most countries in Europe — and more cats than dogs.

A child growing up in the U.S. is more likely to have a pet than a live-at-home father.

Pets live most frequently in homes with children: 64.1 percent of homes with children under age 6, and 74.8 percent of homes with children over age 6, have pets. The woman is the primary caregiver in 72.8 percent of pet-owning households.

Battered women have been known to live in their cars with their pets for as long as four months until an opening was available at a pet-friendly safe house.

If you are in a situation where domestic violence is occurring and live in Lake Tahoe, please contact Live Violence Free for help 530-544-4444. If you suspect domestic violence, please contact your local police department. If you suspect animal abuse and live in South Lake Tahoe (El Dorado County), contact El Dorado County Animal Services at 530-573-7925; you can make a report anonymously. If you have any questions regarding animal abuse or need help finding a foster family to care for your pets so you can escape a domestic violence situation, please contact the Lake Tahoe Humane Society at 530-542-2857.


The Lake Tahoe Humane Society’s annual low-cost dog vaccination clinic is this Saturday, June 11. The $5 vaccination clinic will be held at the back parking lot of Harrah’s during the Hike for the Humane Society Action Adventure Expo event. Registration starts at 9 a.m. and the clinic starts at 10:30. For more information, contact the Lake Tahoe Humane Society 530-542-2857


It’s time again to submit your furry family member’s photos to the Lake Tahoe Humane Society’s Calendar/Card photo contest. Just go to and click on the calendar link, scroll to bottom of the page, fill out form and submit your image. It a fun way to support our Lake Tahoe Humane Society and help them help local animals in need.

Hopeful Henry is a column managed by Niki Congero, executive director of Lake Tahoe Humane Society & S.P.C.A.

Submit questions or letters via e-mail to or by mail to P.O. Box PET South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. For more information, visit, or

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