Cats at shelters because of criminal domestic violence

Cat came from a home with a lot of fighting

Criminal domestic violence most likely plays a big part in the number of pets turned into shelters in South Carolina (SC), where I live. When Michael did the article Domestic Arguments Make Cats Anxious, I knew I had to do a follow up.

A September article by The State newspaper stated SC is second in the nation with respect to men who kill women. There was a time several years back when SC held the #1 position. The most dangerous time for a woman in SC is when she goes to leave a violent man. SC has CDV (Criminal Domestic Violence) laws in place where the police can file charges, and it doesn’t matter whether the woman is willing to file against the person who abused her or not. The state takes over, which is good because a very small percentage of women would actually follow through in taking an abuser to court.

Yes, there are abusive women, but it’s not a large percentage. In the upstate of SC, it’s mostly men abusing or killing women.

I wrote a story a few weeks ago about a fire fighter in the Charlotte, NC area who killed a cat in the presence of his girlfriend and her son. He was arrested, but the woman didn’t want to press charges, even though the man tried to strangle her to death.

A recent report on television gives the reason SC is at the top of the list is because women have been subservient to men for generations, and that trait (or whatever you want to call it) is tough to unlearn. You won’t believe how many times I’ve heard a woman use the words “He won’t let me” or “I’m not allowed to” when it comes to getting or keeping an animal. I used to live under similar conditions, where I quickly learned the pets were safer outside than inside.

I finally got rid of the man and kept the animals. Problem solved.

Now let’s examine some shelter statistics. Of all animals to come through the doors of a shelter, only 20% of animals dropped off at a shelter are listed as owner surrender. The reasons for owner surrender often include “moving-can’t take” or “change in lifestyle.” It’s common for families splitting up to return to the parents home. A lot of families in this area are at retirement age or close to it, and have adult children and grandchildren living with them. Many times a pet can’t go when something like this happens. This is how we ended up with Sheela and Shirley back with us. Small children and cats didn’t make a good mix, and the cats were scared.

If 20% of turn-in’s are surrenders, that leaves 80% who are stray/animal control pick ups. This doesn’t mean they don’t come from a broken home. Perhaps a woman feels her pet was safer outdoors than inside where all the fighting takes place. Or the pets get out and run away in fear because the couple is constantly screaming at each other.

Women don’t realize there are systems in place to help get their pets to safety when they leave an abusive situation. Rather than go into detail, the links are provided at the end of this article.

In closing, I’d like to say Laura and I have done one rescue where a cat came from a home with a lot of fighting. It was Gizzy, whose story can be found here. Gizzy could hiss, slap, spit and growl simultaneously. We called her a she-devil when she first came to live with us. We never had a cat like her, angry and terrified at the world, but thankfully very much reformed and happy at this point in her life. I wonder how deep her emotional scars go, to have been in a home where arguing and screaming were an every day occurrence?

We’re just glad Gizzy has recovered as much as she has. Shirley and Sheela are also doing great.

Do any of you think the high shelter turn-in’s, whether as strays or owner surrenders, may be a direct result of CDV situations?

Elisa

References:

  • thestate.com/2012/09/20/2448208/south-carolina-rated-second-worst.html
  • http://www.examiner.com/article/criminal-domestic-violence-and-pet-safety
  • http://www.examiner.com/article/relief-grants-for-pets-of-domestic-violence-victims
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Comments

Cats at shelters because of criminal domestic violence — 25 Comments

  1. Great article Elisa (by the way I think your articles are well researched and I personally don’t have a problem with them being a bit longer) – poor Gizzy – so glad she is happier now. I’m sure it will always remain in her subconcious – I’m sure if you raise your voice for another reason, maybe if you are happy, just the loudness will make her jump, perhaps. It must be hard. I have been involved in shouting in front of cats, with another human and it’s horrible and I try never to do it. She looks just like a cat I know who is very sweet and gentle. It makes me so sad when cats are constantly in a state of fear and defense.

    • Marc, what sort of article length do you think is appropriate today? I think Elisa’s are about the correct lengt. Mine are a bit sorter sometimes because I tend to say it rather abruptly 😉 Although I have written some huge articles and Google does not like them.

      The modern surfer has a short attention span. I’d be interested to hear your views on this subject.

      • Michael – it totally depends – both really. But not a string of long ones in a row but that is just because PoC has so many new articles everyday that they have to be in part short so we can keep up. But in essence I like a long article too, combined with some time to think and reply. The internet and average attention span results in the fact that I’m usually just trying to keep up with articles and comments.

        But a long article could replace 2 or 3 short ones in my view. Clearly there’s not a straight answer but I was just thinking Elisa is a hardcore researcher and that is very suitable to her articles – they are well informed and backed up with facts, statistics, opinions etc – so her articles of that nature can’t really afford to be cut shorter. I’m sure she doesn’t even supply all of her research because she herself is avoiding a huge article. I just think long articles have their place in amongst the short ones. At work I don’t have time to read along one but that’s ok since I’ll read it in the evening.

        By the way Elisa lives in SC and the Senator for SC is known to be one of the biggest nutjobs in politics. Senator Lindsey Graham is otherwise known as Graham Crackers. I don’t know if having a senator like that reflects on a state which has more women killed than other states but it does say something about the general voting population of South Carolina. Personally I find the most scary comments come from Kentucky though. That place must be frightening to a more secular modern educated human being.

        Anyway it’s a good thing SC has laws in place to protect women from dinosaur men but I fear that many people completely lose themselves when they love somebody and just somehow accept beng beaten as part of having that macho tough guy you love so much. I guess that’s why they never press charges. I’m sure men accept unreasonable women in the same way but it doesn’t involve punching, just lack of reason, spite, jealousy etc the same things with a different more verbal rather than physicla reaction.

        • Thanks Marc. I think PoC articles are about right for length. For the first three years all my articles were heavily researched – the cat breeds are all researched, the Savannah cat being fairly typical – but I do it less these days because there is less new stuff to write about. One article I wrote on the tiger took me 40 days on and off! Mad. The page never got seen by anyone so I built a mini website on the tiger instead which is seen.

          These days the length depends on the subject matter and how long it takes to say something but I always have an eye on search engine optimisation (SEO). Will Google find it and how competitive is the subject? If it is uncompetitive I can keep it shorter.

          • I’ve been doing a ton of before and after rescue stories for Examiner. You wouldn’t believe how much people love them. I’m even doing lost pet articles and they’re getting spread around well.

            I never have writers block and I pretty much know which ones to let Michael publish. There are some cat ones I do for Examiner because I may have to go into an article and change things fast. It all balances out.

            • I can allow access to the article is that would assist you. This blog allows me to assign authorship roles to various people. I am thinking about that. That would let you have access to the article to amend it and update it.

        • My ex who died in 2009 would have killed Graham if he could have got near him.

          I think my articles are as long as they need to be. Adding the exterior links on this one helped shorten it. I don’t shorten if it effects quality. That would be like stopping a movie 10 minutes from the end.

          • I agree Elisa – I can’t always read a long article until some other less busy time – I hate being busy and I like to read the articles properly so I just have to save them for later.

    • I have been involved in shouting in front of cats, with another human and it’s horrible and I try never to do it

      I am exactly the same. I have more or less stopped. For decades I never shouted but now I tend to. The reasons are complicated but the main reason, by far, is the person I live with.

      If you live with a cat, live with a mellow women if you are a man and vice versa.

      • I got all my meds back today so I may never yell at anyone again. I’m not a yeller. I used to be a door slammer. The cats have never experienced anything bad here except for last July. They have peace all the time.

  2. I don’t think it’s necessarily abusive if a partner won’t let you have an animal or another animal. It’s his house too. Not everyone is comfortable living with animals. Jeff has adapted nicely to living with Monty. Were Monty a large black dog instead of a small black cat Jeff would never have allowed me to adopt him. Jeff is afraid of large dogs, having been bitten a few times in his life. I think now he is afraid of getting another animal for another reason– how will that affect Monty? As much as Monty seems to want a friend, how would he really react if he suddenly had to share his space with another animal? His life is so good now, would it be wise to change it by adding another cat? Jeff may be right. He usually is. I’d like to help another cat, but neither of us ever lived in a multicat household. We really don’t know how that works and on the tv when we watch Jackson Galaxy the cat behaviorist, most of the cases where he intervenes involve homes with more than one cat. Also, the fact tht Monty can be so fierce– his feral side– and all the little animals he kills or torments in the back yard– has my sister convinced that he would kill another cat were it brought into his home. It may be her fear and protectiveness of Kobe that has made our attempts to introduce the cats (through the door) not go well. Kobe could be picking up on Jen’s vibe of fear. All the humans need to be calm and confident when introducing new cats. That would not happen in this house, so Monty will have to rely on his stuffed doggie for companionship when we are away.

    • I don’t think it’s necessarily abusive if a partner won’t let you have an animal or another animal

      I agree that but I think you’d agree that a man should not insist on the woman getting rid of her cat which she adopted before their partnership if they then decide to live together.

    • But Jeff is a kind soul. That makes a big difference. Think Jerry Springer and you’ll have a good idea of the type man I’m talking about. The type of mouthy abusive individuals like he has on his show.

      • Add substance abuse into the mix and it can be a very bad situation for everyone involved– people and animals.

  3. It’s about respect for each other Ruth.
    You say:
    ‘Jeff would never have allowed me to adopt a large dog’
    But you, because you respect Jeff, wouldn’t even consider adopting a large dog would you!
    It’s different to one partner being the boss and making unreasonable selfish rules because then the other partner just ends up as a doormat.
    It shouldn’t be about ‘He won’t let me’ ‘I’m not allowed to’
    It should be about understanding and compromise.

  4. I personally like large dogs, but knowing Jeff’s experiences I would not ask for one. I know enough people with dogs who will let me walk their dog that I can enjoy that experience without asking Jeff to be uncomfortable.

    We do compromise so that we each can be happy. Monty just tangled with a strange cat this morning in the back yard. No injuries, he just chased it away, but it was very upsetting for him. I think I have to agree with Jeff on this one. I Inhad managed to catch Monty’s siblings and raised them all here together it would have been wonderful, but now he is four years old and used to being the only cat.

    Jeff did allow me to adopt Monty when he did not want a cat because he knew if we did not take him Animal Control was going to put him down. Our neighbor told us the truth about their kill rates over there. I didn’t totally believe her at the time, but we could not take that chance. Jeff took Monty in to save his life. That was probably the main reason. Had there been another home for Monty, Jeff would have let him go to it– like if my neighbor Dick had wanted him instead of saying, “Catch me the striped one.” But when it came down to life or death for one defenseless black kitten, Jeff sided with life, so we rescued him.

    • It is about balance and compromise and consultation. This is working on a relationship and making it work.

      Personally, I have a strong feeling that you do the right thing because you’re smart and sensible and Jeff too. Just my 2 pennies worth.

    • I had my right arm chewed in half by a golden retriever in 1981 and spent 5 days in hospital. It’s a miracle I can be around large dogs at all. I had an insurance route in 1989 and a lot of my clients had big dogs and I got used to being around them without showing fear.

  5. I have never gotten into a relationship with someone who “won’t let me” do or say whatever it may be, thank goodness! Yes, respect and compromise is key! (….and no yelling and scaring the animals, that’s not allowed – ever!!)

      • Oh dear! 🙂
        I should have mentioned that when growing up there was a lot of yelling and fighting so I knew to steer clear of it when I got older. Poor cat(s) and especially our dog, Snoopy. It is harder for a dog to hide away from that due to their size. My brother hated cats and made that very clear to me. So, there was a ‘fear factor’ and I knew not to say the ‘wrong’ thing.

  6. I wonder if Gizzy is how she is because of the environment she came from, or if it is just naturally in her personality to be a little spitfire. People have been having the “nature vs. nurture” debate for a long time, and I don’t think it’s ever really been answered. It’s probably always a little of each.

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