BRISBANE, Australia — The pets of domestic violence victims in New South Wales, a southeastern Australian state, will also be legally protected when an apprehended domestic violence order is granted.
Attorney-General Mark Speakman says the protection of animals will be automatically included in a standard Apprehended Domestic Violence Order after reforms passed in parliament last November.
“Perpetrators often use animals to coerce or control victims, threatening to hurt or kill pets to keep them in a relationship or as punishment for leaving,” said Speakman.
“This cruelty and manipulation can leave victims terrified of the consequences for their beloved animals and can, therefore, delay or prevent them from leaving a violent situation. These reforms aim to help guard against this abhorrent form of abuse.”
Domestic Violence New South Wales chief executive Delia Donovan said pets were an integral part of some people’s lives and perpetrators often used them to gain control, with threats to kill or hurt animals.
“These reforms are essential to improving the safety of people experiencing domestic violence, and we wholeheartedly support them,” said Donovan.
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals New South Wales chief executive Steve Coleman said for too long the welfare of animals in domestic and family violence situations had been ignored.
“We are pleased to see the opportunity for more services to be equipped to support people and help animals live free from violence and abuse,” said Coleman.
The New South Wales government has also awarded $500,000 to 19 women’s refuges and animal welfare organizations to help support companion animals and victims escaping domestic violence.
A study on “Animal Cruelty and Neglect: Prevalence and Community Actions in Victoria, Australia” states that 55,000–60,000 reports of animal mistreatment are made each year to the RSPCA, approximately 11,000 of which are made in the state of Victoria, the southeast Australian state.
While this is a substantial number, it is likely that similar to other related social issues such as domestic violence and child abuse, these reports are just the ‘tip of the iceberg.’
“We conducted the first extensive community survey to find out what people had seen in their communities and what they did about it,” states the study.
“We found that animal mistreatment was common, with 25.7 percent of people surveyed witnessing mistreatment, mostly neglect with perceived underweight animals being the most common issue and underreported to authorities with only 9 percent of witnesses reporting to RSPCA Victoria.”
“While sobering, these findings are the first step to developing and resourcing well-informed strategies to prevent the mistreatment of animals.”
(Edited by Amrita Das and Saptak Datta)
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