pets and domestic violence

Did you know that a large majority of victims of domestic violence hesitate to leave their situation out of concern for their pets?  There is a strong link between domestic violence and animal abuse, and offenders of domestic violence typically abuse all members of the household, including pets. Since many shelters do not accept pets, it can be a gut-wrenching decision for victims to leave their pets behind with their abuser. 

Pets and Domestic Violence

Pets and Domestic Violence

the impact of pets in domestic violence situations

Since the link between animal abuse and domestic violence is so strong, it is likely that a perpetrator of domestic violence will also abuse the animals in the home. According to animal advocacy group RedRover, most animal abuse occurs in the presence of human victims in the home in order to psychologically control or coerce them. Threats against household pets can be powerful in controlling victims and keeping them quiet about the abusive situation. 

In a violent home, pets may suffer injuries, health problems, permanent disabilities, or may disappear from the home entirely or be killed.

Here are some interesting statistics from the American Humane Association:

• 71% 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.

• 68% of battered women reported violence toward their animals. 87% of these incidents occurred in the presence of the women and 75% in the presence of the children.

• 13% of intentional animal abuse cases involve domestic violence.

• Between 25% and 40% of battered women are unable to escape abusive situations because they worry about what will happen to their pets should they leave.

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

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

• 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.

the link between domestic violence and animal abuse

According to the ASPCA, and other resources, there is a strong link between domestic violence and animal abuse. In fact, a history of pet abuse is one of the top four indicators of risk for being a perpetrator of domestic violence. Those who abuse animals are typically more dangerous, violent and controlling than those who do not. Since so many women (though men can also be victims of domestic violence, it is most often women and children who are at risk) delay leaving an abusive situation out of concern for the pets in the household, it is vitally important that we provide resources for families with pets. 

In addition, the ASPCA cites other shocking facts about animal abuse and domestic violence. Children exposed to domestic violence are three times more likely to be cruel to animals, which seems to perpetuate the cycle of abuse. Interestingly, the Chicago Police Department found that 30% of people arrested for animal abuse had domestic violence charges already on record.

why do abusers batter animals?

According to the ASPCA, there are several reasons abusers batter animals:

• to demonstrate power and control over the family

• to isolate the victim and children

• to enforce submission

• to perpetuate an environment of fear

• to prevent the victim from leaving or coerce her to return

• to punish for leaving or showing independence

what can you do?

What got me thinking about all of this? I was listening to The Mathew Blades Morning Show here in Phoenix the other day, and I heard him talking about his support of the Sojourner Center. He announced that he will be the emcee of their upcoming 14th Annual Hope Luncheon on October 29th. 

Blades spoke about how the Sojourner Center supports women with pets by allowing them to stay together. The victims of domestic violence can bring their pets with them to the shelter, which can provide safety for the pets and comfort and peace of mind to the women and children seeking refuge from their abusive situation. 

You can attend the luncheon, volunteer with the Sojourner Center or donate to the organization. 

resources & help

The Sojourner Center

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

RedRover–bringing animals from crisis to care

Safe Place for Pets–a RedRover project with the National Link Coalition and Sheltering Animals and Families Together

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please seek help.

will your pet be safe if a natural disaster strikes? #NatlPrep #giveaway

This weekend marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I can't believe it's been that long. Hitting the Atlantic coast and costing over 1,800 lives, it was one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. Families with pets faced torturous decisions, as no provisions had been made for pets in such a disaster. Many people were forced to leave their pets behind, which was a huge emotional blow in such a time of crisis, not to mention the health and safety risks the situation posed to the pets. Some people refused to evacuate without their pets, which further complicated rescue efforts. In all, over 600,000 pets died or found themselves homeless, and almost half (44%) of people who refused to evacuate said they did not leave because they were not allowed to bring their pets. 

Will your pet be safe if a natural disaster strikes?

Will your pet be safe if a natural disaster strikes?


Hurricane Katrina was the catalyst for the PETS Act–the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act. The act had bipartisan support in both houses, and the legislation passed quickly through Congress and was signed into law in October 2006. It ensures that state and local emergency planning addresses the needs of households with pets.

our hurricane katrina rescue dog

In addition to the lives lost and families displaced by Hurricane Katrina, many animals found themselves astray. The stray animal population was too much for the Gulf Coast area to handle, especially as they began a long process toward recovery, so animals were sent to shelters and rescue groups all over the United States in hopes that by dispersing the stray population, more animals would find homes. Our dog, N.A.S.H.A. was one of those dogs. 

Our dog, N.A.S.H.A., is a Hurricane Katrina rescue.

Our dog, N.A.S.H.A., is a Hurricane Katrina rescue.

We adopted N.A.S.H.A. in September of 2005 when she was just a pup. She was with a rescue group that had taken on a large number of strays left homeless in the wake of the hurricane. My step-son, B, and I walked past her crate, and she went nuts. We watched from afar as others passed her crate and noticed that she only got excited when we walked by. B asked if we could take her out and hold her. That's when I knew we were in trouble. We weren't even thinking of adding another dog to the family. She chose us, and we couldn't deny her. 

do you have a plan in place for your pets if disaster strikes?

Thanks in big part to the PETS Act, our animal companions are now being considered when disaster strikes, but many of us don't have a emergency plan for our pets. Whether you live in a place where a hurricane or tornado could strike, you live in earthquake country, or you live in a place that could flood in a matter of moments during monsoon season (that's us), it's important to have a solid plan in place for your pets. 

We're working with the ASPCA to help spread the word about disaster preparedness for families with pets. They have created a handy infographic to break down the most important things to consider:

september is national preparedness month–take the pledge and enter to win a disaster preparedness pack

September is national preparedness month. Are you prepared to take care of your pets in a natural disaster? Are our pets safer than they were ten years ago when Hurricane Katrina struck? Join me in taking the pledge to prepare for your pets in the event of an emergency by clicking here.

Enter to win this ASPCA Disaster Preparedness Pack.

Enter to win this ASPCA Disaster Preparedness Pack.

The ASPCA has generously offered to give a Disaster Preparedness Pack to one of our readers! The pack includes:

• emergency ready pet first aid kit

• Subaru roll-up picnic blanket

• Subaru penguin umbrella

With this pack, there's no excuse not to be prepared.

Have you and your pets been through a natural disaster? Are you prepared to care for your pets in the event of an emergency? Please tell us about it.

8 great reasons to adopt an adult dog

Puppies are impossible to resist. For that reason, they rarely have trouble finding a willing family to take them in. Once they are past just a few months of age, they start to loose their desirability. Are they tainted? How come nobody wants them? What did their previous owners do to mess them up? Are they aggressive? Are they ill-behaved? Adult dogs find themselves in shelters for as many reasons as there are dogs in shelters. The bottom line? When you adopt an adult dog, you'll have a much better idea of what you're getting into. 

Puppy fever? Check out 8 great reasons to adopt an adult dog.

Puppy fever? Check out 8 great reasons to adopt an adult dog.

8 great reasons to adopt an adult dog

1. You'll know if you have an introvert or extrovert on your hands. Knowing what you're getting into in terms of personality is a great thing, in my opinion. Though when you meet a dog at a shelter, he may not show his full personality to you right away, you can get a pretty good idea as to whether there are any major deal-breaking issues so that you can figure out if the animal would be a good fit for your lifestyle and family. Puppies are all pretty much cute lumps of fluff, ready to be molded. That molding is a time-consuming task that doesn't always work out as planned. When you adopt an adult dog, you'll know if he gets along with kids, needs a great deal of exercise, or is fearful of loud noises, for example. You can choose your new family member based on what works for you. No surprises!

2. Potty training–check! Adult dogs are usually potty trained. It's true that some have not been properly trained in this area, but you'll know that going in. Rescues and shelters will generally know which dogs are potty trained and which aren't. If you don't want to go through the grueling process of potty training, an adult dog may be for you. No puppy comes potty trained.

3. Size matters. Unless you get a pure-bred puppy, the size your puppy may eventually be is pretty much a mystery. I can't tell you how many times a pet sitting client says to me "yeah...we didn't realize he'd be this big when we got him." Size may not be as important as temperament and activity needs, but if you are expecting a chihuahua and end up with a pony, it might make a difference to you. 

4. They might know some stuff. Chances are, your rescued adult dog will come home knowing at least a handful of commands. Even if they don't, they have a longer attention span than puppies, so they will catch on quicker when you want them to "sit" and "stay."

5. Adult dogs aren't the time-suck puppies are. During the first year (and sometimes beyond) of life, puppies require near-constant supervision to make sure they are safe and behaving themselves, which is usually not the case, if left to their own devices. All that potty training and training training can be exhausting and can take up a ton of time. Adult dogs become acclimated to the house rules much faster.

6. They won't eat your couch. Teething puppies tend to gnaw on anything they can sink their teeth into. If proper chewing toys are not provided, they will resort to things you probably find valuable, such as your Jimmy Choos or your couch. Puppy proofing is often a trial-and-error process, and there may be casualties along the way. Though adult dogs still like to chew (and should for dental health), they typically know what is appropriate and what is not.

7. Health isn't a mystery. It is expected that senior dogs may come with a health issue or two, but when you adopt an adult or senior dog, you have a better idea of what you're getting into. You may choose to adopt an ill or disabled dog (extra hero points for you), but if that's not your thing, most dogs in rescues and shelters have been checked over by a veterinarian, so any health issues present are known. With a puppy, it's more difficult to determine because of the limited health history. 

8. You get to rock a dog's world. Adult dogs aren't considered as cute as puppies, as far as the general population is concerned. Puppies go like hot cakes, because, who can resist the pudge and innocent eyes? But if you take time to think about what you might mean to a dog that is already grown up, well, you'd be a rockstar. They want homes. They want families. They want a rock star like you to make that happen for them.

Adult dogs in rescues and shelters come from varied backgrounds. They come in all ages, all shapes, and all sizes, and they have different needs. The common thread is that they all need homes. When you adopt an adult dog, you at least have a fairly good idea of what you are getting into, so there's a greater chance you'll find that perfect match–that BFF for life. 

Have you ever adopted an adult dog? Will you please share your story?


territorio de zaguates: when you adopt a mutt, you adopt a unique breed

green dog rescue project: inspiring change, educating, and saving lives

art studio holds "paint a pet" fundraiser for the humane society

I enjoyed an evening with some of my best gal pals last week for "Moms' Night Out" hosted by our local MOMS Club. We all brought some food and wine to share and met up at Be...An Artist, a local art studio recently opened by artist Sandra Marshall. I was excited to do something different...slap some paint onto a canvas, but it was even more fun than I expected. While we were there, Sandra mentioned that the studio would be hosting a "Paint a Pet" fundraiser for the Arizona Humane Society, and my ears perked up. 

Our MOMS Club had an awesome time at Be...An Artist.  photos courtesy of Sandra Marshall, Be...An Artist.

Our MOMS Club had an awesome time at Be...An Artist. photos courtesy of Sandra Marshall, Be...An Artist.

So a few days later, I found myself back in the studio with Sandra and her fabulous team. When the Arizona Human Society's Waggin' Wheels Mobile Adoption Wagon pulled up, the small crowd watched in excitement. For, inside were not only furry models for the budding artists, but adoptable models, at that. Once the wagon was parked in front of the studio, the side rolled up to reveal a wall of adorable critters in see-through kennels. The onlookers released a collective "Awwwww..." The back of the wagon said "NEW FAMILY MEMBERS ON BORD," which totally melted my heart.

The crowd gathered outside the Waggin' Wheels Wagon.

The crowd gathered outside the Waggin' Wheels Wagon.

The hopeful pups check out the crowd, hoping to become the newest addition to a great family.

The hopeful pups check out the crowd, hoping to become the newest addition to a great family.

Inside, Sandra and her team had set up canvases for potential adopters as well as for birthday party-goers. What a great occasion for an animal-loving tween to have a party! Sandra started the art lesson by teaching everyone how to draw the animal they wanted to paint. Step-by-step, she showed them how to form the shapes the would somehow come together into a masterpiece. What I love about Sandra is her attitude. Though she is an accomplished artist, she instructed both "spirited" moms and young animal lovers on how to create a painting to be proud of. Throughout the process, she occasionally asks "are you happy with it?" If you say you're not, she'll ask what you're not happy with and help you find a solution. Remarkable patience.

Sandra helps the artists every step of the way.

Sandra helps the artists every step of the way.

Back outside at the wagon, I spoke to Megan Merrimac, Mobile Adoptions Coordinator for the Arizona Humane Society. I asked her about the Waggin' Wheels program. She explained that since the program's inception in July of 2014, they have had over 250 adoptions out of the wagon. They bring 6-8 dogs and a couple of cats each time they take the wagon out, which is three or four times a week. Sometimes they attend events, and sometimes they just hit the road. I asked Megan if the pets had to meet any special requirements in order to board the Waggin' Wheels Wagon. She said that she always make sure the animals are good with kids. That seems understandable, as the wagon was attracting small humans like bees to honey. 

Who could resist these cute faces?

Who could resist these cute faces?

At Be...An Artist that day, AZHS adopted out four animals. Pretty awesome! And Sandra donated a portion of the proceeds to the cause. We love that!

Be...An Artist has a wide variety of sessions and events geared toward children, teens, and adults.  They even offer summer camps and classes for people with special needs. It's a great place to have a birthday party, as I was lucky to witness first-hand. I think my art-loving daughter, Campbell, would absolutely love to have her next birthday party there. 

The party-goers were pleased with their masterpieces.  photo courtesy of Sandra Marshall, Be...An Artist.

The party-goers were pleased with their masterpieces. photo courtesy of Sandra Marshall, Be...An Artist.

Have you been to Be...An Artist, yet? Or if you're not in the Phoenix area, is there anything like this where you live?

View the Be...An Artist calendar of events.

Connect with Be...An Artist on Facebook.

View the Arizona Humane Society's Waggin' Wheels Mobile Adoption Vehicle calendar.

Connect with AZHS on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Google+.

will animal-cruelty laws get weaker in arizona? help stop HB 2150

It disgusts me to report to you that the Arizona Legislature has just passed House Bill 2150, so it has landed on Governor Doug Ducey's desk, and animal advocates are asking for a veto. HB 2150 denies farm animals–namely cows, pigs, and chickens–protection under animal cruelty laws by labeling them as "livestock" instead of "animals." This new "livestock" category would have weaker protections, including a reduction in the penalties for cruelty to farm animals and ending the current felony status of abandoning or medically neglecting farm animals. 

Farm animals feel the same emotional and physical pain as dogs and cats, but since they are allowed to be used for meat, they are often thought of as less-advanced, and it can be difficult to ensure they receive the same protection as "pets."

It is difficult to see any benefit in this bill being allowed to pass and only raises questions about what the agricultural industry might be hiding. If farmers are treating their animals well, which they should be, then why would they advocate for weaker animal-cruelty laws? Smells fishy to me. Matthew Hendley in an article for Phoenix New Times, states that Republican Senator John Kavanagh, who opposes the bill says "(HB) 2150 requires police officers who are investigating livestock abuse to notify civilians in the Department of Agriculture, thereby potentially compromising ongoing investigations–or should I say, investigations that never get other area of law enforcement requires such an outside notification."

I find this appalling, so I have signed a petition targeted at Arizona State Senators to help stop HB 2150. Will you join me? Click the button, below, to sign the petition, and please share this post to help spread the word.