This post is very near and dear to my heart. One of my good friends has stayed in an abusive relationship for a little longer than she should have for fear of leaving her dog behind. She knew if she left, the boyfriend would hurt the dog. All is fine now and she finally did leave him and took the dog. I am happy she was able to get out, but sometimes people can’t
Here is Adriana’s post:
My name is Adriana Meucci and I work in Animal Rescue, as well as being an Animal Advocate. I have a social media campaign going on to help bring awareness to the plight of domestic violence victims and their pets. Often victims will remain in abusive relationships for fear of leaving a beloved pet behind. There is a strong need for domestic violence shelters to allot room for pets,as well as for rescues to work with victims,to keep pets safe.
Here is an article posted with permission of BC-The Mag
Give Me Shelter: New Jersey’s Forgotten Victims of Domestic Violence
Bergen County’s Adriana Meucci draws attention to the issues effecting family pets in domestic violence
When 55 year-old, domestic violence survivor, Diane recalls her days at the mercy of her abusive husband she also remembers the family dog becoming a victim. Weiss will never forget one drive during a cold spell, when her husband threw her and her beloved pet out in the street, but not before delivering a powerful blow to the canine’s head. Weiss walked many lonely and chilly miles home with her pet by her side. And, upon arriving to the doorstep, her children screamed in horror as their mother’s, hair, face, and parts of her clothing were covered in icicles, making her practically unrecognizable. Her loyal dog lagged behind, dazed and in fear.
“I was terrified of leaving, and realized that my dog would now bear the brunt of the
abuse, dare I defend myself, said Weiss. “I desperately worried about the impact the
terror would reap upon my children, as they witnesses me and their loving dog being
Domestic violence victims are often faced with the sad fact of leaving their cherished pets behind when fleeing their abusers. The American Humane Society states that almost 100% of Americans consider their pets a part of the family so, for many victims, leaving their pets behind is simply not an option.
Mounting evidence shows there is a direct correlation between domestic violence and animal abuse. Many batterers will threaten victims into compliance by using brute force, torture and even killing animals in front of victims. This rage usually ensures that spousal partners will not flee for fear of retaliation to their pets,
“There was no question in my mind,” said Weiss, “that my husband would maim or kill my beautiful, soulful dog if I dare thought of escaping!” In those days, there were not as many shelters and it was absurd to ever think that pets would be allowed on premises. For most people the family pet provides a great source of comfort, something desperately needed by the victims of domestic violence.
This situation makes for an undeserved hell for both the family and the helpless pets. Meucci, a long-time New Jersey resident, animal advocate, and volunteer for The columbine Animal Welfare Society (CLAWS), has dedicated years to helping animals in many ways. She is very happy that recent laws have been passed to help these poor animals out of their terrifying situations.
Nevertheless, we need even more efficient measures in place that protect pets, not only in New Jersey, but nationwide. For example, to ensure that newly constructed domestic /Give Shelter/3
violence shelters provide some space for pets, or an on- site animal facility, we need to make changes in the current laws. We want to see to it that this becomes the norm! Others even suggest retro- fitting some shelters to provide dogs with runs and kennels. “It is important to
keep families together,” says Meucci, “and this includes our furry family members. Education about these types of issues is also key to change.”
Abusers can no longer get away with these cruel and threatening tactics on innocent, voiceless, animals. “Not only have the times changed, but so have our communities,” Meucci says.
“I can’t even imagine, with all that women and children go through with violence in their homes, that they also must endure the added stress of finding a safe haven that will accept their pets,” says Meucci. “This is totally unacceptable! No family wants to be separated from their revered pets, especially after all they have gone through.
Shelter must be provided at a moment’s notice for victims who must flee, with their children and their pets.
Meucci explains, “I grew up with many friends who became victims of domestic violence, and because of that, I became very sympathetic to their plight. As an animal lover and advocate, I often wonder about animal abuse in their homes. In college, I took social work and psychology courses, and have a degree in humanities which gave me great understanding about domestic violence plights. Moreover, I have heard so many heartbreaking stories about people living out of their cars with their pets, because they would not part with them.”
Meucci goes on to say that a good friend of hers, also became a therapist specializing in domestic violence, allowing her to become familiar with so many different issues.
In New Jersey, it is now possible for a Judge to issue a restraining order that also applies to the family pets. This way, the door is starting to open up and there are at least some options becoming available so that people don’t feel completely helpless when it come to their pets. There are also some New Jersey animal shelters that are willing to work with domestic violence victims to ensure the temporary safe keeping of their pets!
Aside from much needed funding for housing possibilities, money is needed for medical attention, as often times these pets are lacking veterinary care. Meucci points out that it is imperative that as many people as possible, who can contribute to this issue in one way or another, should do so immediately. The family pets are just as important as the front line victims.
The issue also has a lot to do with educating victims by showing them ways to include their pets in an escape plan, which includes the pet’s records, pet food, medications, etc. “Pets are family and we should as a society ensure the utmost protection for all family members,” said Meucci.
There are more people drawing attention to the subject of pets in family violence cases and even on state level there are major changes in the making. Though this development is very
promising, there is still much to be done to help these oftentimes overlooked victims of intimate partner violence.
According to the American Humane Society, more households have pets than children! So, why is this issue such a big problem if those are the statistics? “There is certainly a willingness to help on the side of the shelters, but they also suffer from a money shortages,and restrictions, said Meucci.
What kind of support is most necessary? That was the question we asked Miss Meucci. “Of course, just like any cause, funds are imperative. “But”, Meucci adds, “I believe that adequate legislation is where we need to start on this issue.” According to Miss Meucci, the domestic violence issue surrounding family pets is a delicate one. In New Jersey, laws have been passed to ensure that pets are included in domestic violence restraining orders. This is a significant bipartisan achievement for this plight, said Meucci. It’s a small step towards realizing permanent and adequate, on- site- facilities on the grounds of newly built shelters.
Meucci is also interested in joining forces with animals advocate groups who are pushing for laws forbidding abusers to have pets in the future. This alone would save many animals lives. “As long as a dog or cat doesn’t have any rights, abusers will continue to use them as leverage against their victims.
Meucci has two online petitions out on this issue at http://www.causes.com and http://www.petitionhub.com. There is already ever increasing support to Meucci’s cause, but there is so much more needed. Meucci’s out of the box thinking which has already earned her an
Outstanding Volunteer Award at CLAWS, shines through on this issue as well, as she is taking a different approach than the mainstream. “Sure, we can raise money for the issue, says
Meucci. “But in this case I feel we need a much more structured solution that has a solid foundation to help these animals for the long haul! At this stage, money is an important
temporary solution, but just as with the women and children, a temporary solution is just not good enough.
How to Get Involved
For New Jersey residents who wish to help in this plight, please petition your state representatives.
Petition to Governor Christopher ‘Chris’ Christie, New Jersey
Petition to LT. Governor Kim Guadagno, New Jersey
Please sign and share: Help Domestic Violence Victims Keep Their Pets, on Causes and Petition Hub. Signatures will be presented to New Jersey State Representatives and beyond.
*In the interest of privacy some names have been changed.
Reprinted with the permission of BC-The Mag
Here is a short video on the campaign:
Domestic Violence is REAL, Later this year I am releasing an Anthology with several authors which offers a collection of short stories all dealing with Domestic Violence. No one should have to live this way. My short story I am working on is titled “Indigo Tears” and you are hearing about it first right now!!! It centers around a 17 year old girl whose mother is abused by her father. This is one girl’s story on how she deals with the after effects of a terrible situation. Stay tuned for information on this anthology and when it releases by following this blog!!!