Proposed laws were put to the Victoria Parliament this week that resulted in a win for animal welfare in Victoria, a state located in Southeastern Australia, after the Animal Justice Party pushed for the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 to recognize pets as victims of domestic violence.
Dr. Liz Walker, RSPCA Victoria CEO, stated in an interview with Mirage News that family violence and animal abuse are well documented in both research as well as RSPCA inspector experience.
Numerous studies have shown that in households experiencing domestic violence and abuse, there is also a high probability of animal abuse. While the proposed changes aim to better protect animals in violent homes, importantly, they also recognise that victims often do not leave abusive situations for fear of abandoning their animals. Pets are an important part of the family, so making it easier for victims to leave unsafe situations with their pets is a huge step forward.
The motion, which passed unanimously on March 3, will allot more funding to support animal victims of family violence and will include the care of pets that many refused to leave behind. Victims statistics show one in three will stay in abusive relationships because they don’t want to leave their pets behind and half of abused women report their abuser had injured or killed a precious pet.
This is a good read by an abused victim named only as “Jenna.”
You kind of feel like you are trapped, because you don’t want to leave a part of your family behind. When you experience family violence you are isolated from your friends and family and your world becomes very small.
Animal Justice Party Leader Andy Meddick told ABC.net.au how the Victorian Parliamentary action will affect the abused and their pets stating
Often we find women feel like they have to stay in violent relationships because their pet is registered to the male in the family. [The proposed changes] will automatically move the ownership to the person trying to flee that situation.
Walker believes veterinarians, community service workers and other frontline staff should be trained in what to look for in cases of domestic violence and how a pet in the family may be suffering from abuse. She also believes emergency shelters should either allow pets or a place should be available where the animal will be safe.
State and territory legislation will allow for companion animals to be listed on restraining orders, granting them the same protection as the person being abused.
RSPCA Victoria posted a statement on their Facebook page saying “in a win for animal and human welfare, pets will now be recognised as victims of family violence as an Animal Justice Party motion proposing changes to Victoria’s family violence laws passed unanimously in Parliament today. “
The RSPCA Victoria provided boarding funds for 148 animals during the 2019-2020 financial year. More on the Family Violence Protection Act of 2008 can be found here.
Note: I’ve chosen Kyle as the feature photo for this article because he witnessed the murder of his owner. He’s now a famous Instagram star as well as having his own Facebook page as well as a website where he educates his fans on criminal domestic violence. More on the RSPCA Victoria can be found here.