Definition Rewrite-rowanstudent24

Animal Abuse as a Result of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence in the home significantly impacts the occurrence of animal abuse. Some major questions surrounding the issue of animal abuse are “What are the main reasons that it occurs?” and,  “Is there a particular cause?” There may be a variety of things impacting poor treatment of animals, but one of the causes may be domestic violence and/or a poor home environment that includes parents being negative role models for their children regarding animal treatment. Children will observe their parents’ treatment of pets and if it is negative or abusive, they learn that this is “the way you handle pets in this home”. This in turn causes a lack of education to children on how to properly care for pets or animals in their home.

To take this idea a little further, research indicates that violence within families and animal abuse are linked to each other. Many people think of their pets as family members and if an abuser feels that way, there is nothing to stop them from abusing their family members or pets. According to the author of “Animal Abuse, Family Violence, and Child Well-being: A Review,” Sarah McPhedran, states that “Animals may become victims of violence in troubled homes because they are thought of as property.” She also comments that other people believe violence extends to pets because they are thought of as family members. It seems there are two kinds of people that can be abusers. The first are those who think of their pets as property and the second are those abusers who consider pets to be part of their family. If they abuse their family members, that automatically could mean they become abusers of their pets as well. 

Desiring the ability to have dominance or control over others can also contribute to animal abuse. By abusing an animal, the abuser believes they are showing dominance and control to intimidate or control other people. It can also be present in relationships as well. According to McPhedran, in the article, “Animal Abuse, Family Violence, and Child Wellbeing: A Review,” she states “That it is common for women in shelters to talk about companion animal abuse , and suggest that women may delay leaving abusive relationships out of fear for the wellbeing of their pets.” Many domestic violence victims get stuck in this cycle due to fear regarding abusers threats to harm the victim or other family members and pets. McPhedran also states in the article that “In the United States, Ascione’s (1998) widely cited research found that 71% of 38 women in a Utah shelter, who owned a pet, reported that their partner had threatened to, or had actually harmed, that pet.” The fact that abusive partners threaten to abuse family pets significantly impacts the occurrence of animal abuse. According to Aleksandar Hrubenj in his article “37 Deeply Disturbing Animal Abuse Statistics and Facts,” he states, “The animal abuse and domestic violence statistics show a clear correlation between domestic violence and animal abuse. Victims of domestic violence have reported that in the great majority of cases their abuser has also maltreated their pet.” Research indicates that an abusive home environment can increase the chance that an abuser would mistreat a family pet.

Home environment and how family pets are treated in the home also impacts the occurrence of animal abuse. Poor treatment of family pets can be a learned behavior. So a child in this type of home environment, can learn to treat animals poorly if their parents were abusive to family pets. In his article,  “37 Deeply Disturbing Animal Abuse Statistics and Facts”, Aleksandar Hrubenj states, “Animal abuse is very common in families with child abuse. Unfortunately, abuse leads to more abuse, so statistics show that 26% of the people who abuse animals were abused in their childhood. Children who witness domestic violence are three times more likely to abuse animals.” Children observe how their parents treat each other and learn from that relationship as well. If that relationship is abusive then the children grow up believing that this is the way you treat other living things. That can significantly impact an occurrence of animal abuse. According to McPhedran in the same article, she states that “In the Utah shelter study, 22 women had children, and 32% (or 7 women) reported that one or more of their children had abused or killed companion animals.” Children are learning these behaviors in their home environment from their parents, which can continue the cycle of abuse through to the next generation.  

Animal abuse also continues to occur because some veterinarians are failing to report suspected abuse. Some veterinarians choose to report it while others don’t. According to Georgina Mills, who wrote the article, “Reporting cases of animal abuse,” she states that “A study carried out by psychologists at the University of Kent, found that almost a third of the vets had suspected at least one incident of animal abuse in the past year, but only half of those had reported cases to authorities.” Based on this information it seems that veterinarians are not getting enough training and therefore are lacking the confidence and skills to make the authorities aware of the suspected animal abuse. Mills also states in her article that ” Those with self-belief were more likely to report cases of suspected abuse; this self-belief tended to come from training and experience.” Mills also stated that in the United Kingdom, Vets only receive two hours of training on this subject when in school. Vets should receive more training on this subject just because animal abuse happens more frequently than one would think.

Animal Abuse has been linked to other poor behaviors as well. According to Thomas J. Mowen and John H. Boman, they state in their article “Animal Abuse among High-Risk Youth: A Test of Agnew’s Theory,” that “Animal abuse has been tied to other deviant behaviors including interpersonal violence, illegal gun possession, substance use, and antisocial behaviors later on in life.” Unfortunately, a negative home environment where abuse or domestic violence is present, seems to indicate a higher risk of animal abuse in future generations. 


Mcphedran, S. (2009). Animal abuse, family violence, and child wellbeing: A review. Journal of Family Violence, 24(1), 41-52. doi:

Hrubenja, A. (2020, July 14). 37 Deeply Disturbing Animal Abuse Statistics & Facts. Retrieved November 4, 2020, from

Georgina Mills. Reporting cases of animal abuse. (2019). The Veterinary Record, 185(17), 524. doi:

Thomas J. Mowen, John H. Boman. (2020) Explaining Animal Abuse Among Adolescents: The Role of Speciesism. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 36, pages 088626052095964.

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