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?