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Links between domestic violence, animal abuse exist

Some of the collateral damage of domestic violence is the abuse that the beloved pets of the victims suffer. But the Phoenix courts have begun recognizing a link between animal abuse and domestic violence.

Some courts are extending the orders of protection they give domestic violence victims to include custody of pets. The orders also include provisions that abusers may not have access to the pets. At the prosecutors' discretion, they can ask the judge to mandate defendants accused of abusing animals to attend counseling for domestic violence in order to accept a defendant's plea bargain.

The assistant city prosecutor of the City of Mesa stated, "Animal abuse should be seen as a red flag for family violence, including domestic violence, elder abuse and child abuse."

As such, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) orders acts of cruelty to animals to be reported separately as a violent offense. The agency recognizes that this form of cruelty is a red flag for future violence that may even be worse and directed at humans.

The Mesa prosecutor is leading the charge for other prosecutors, judges and police to begin implementing these protections for pets as standard operating procedures when dealing with abuse cases.

Statistics indicate that over 70 percent of victims of domestic violence report targeted abuse to a family pet. In a September press conference, the City of Phoenix and the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) discussed links between domestic violence and animal abuse.

The MAG chairperson said, "Eighty percent of homes where abused or neglected pets were found also had previous investigations by child welfare agencies of physical abuse and neglect."

At least 50 percent of abuse victims remain in dangerous situations out of fear of what could happen to their animals if they flee. No victim should have to endure abuse, whether human or animal. Learn how you can use the law to protect yourself, your children and your pets from domestic violence.

Source: 3TV/CBS 5, "Maricopa regional officials look at the link between animal abuse and domestic violence," Laura Lollman, accessed Jan. 19, 2018

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