Pet Abuse is Domestic Abuse

People who abuse want power and control over others. They may want to retaliate or show another person they are next. To force a person to watch abuse is a form of abuse. Pet abuse is domestic abuse. It can cause health problems. Studies show that a person who abuses a pet may also abuse their partner.

Human and animal victims can both suffer these types of abuse and more:

  • Neglect or being ignored.ii
  • Being ganged up on by more than one abuser.iii 
  • Sexual or physical abuse.
  • Kept from access to medicine or health care.
  • Kept from access to food, water or safe shelter.
  • Being yelled at, insulted or scared on purpose.

Another abuse tactic is to remove a pet from the home and not tell where it is. There may be times when a victim is forced to abuse a pet to protect it from torture or death by an abuser. They may be forced to abuse a pet to protect their child. One quarter of children whose mothers were abused saw their family pet threatened, abused or killed as a way to control the mother.iv Pets and children share a special bond and abuse using pets causes deep trauma.v

Pet abuse trauma can cause health or social problems such asvi:

  • Depression or anxiety.
  • Post-traumatic stress.
  • Aggression.
  • Lack of emotions or ability to pay attention.vii

To find the domestic abuse program nearest you, visit and click on Find Help or use the Find Help map on the home page.

iMerz-Perez, Linda & Heide, Kathleen. (2004). Animal cruelty: Pathway to violence against people. Lanham, MD: Altamira Press.

iiMcKinnis, Susan. (2016). Unlinking the chain: How animal abuse intersects with domestic violence. Webinar. New Castle, PA: Crisis Center of Lawrence County.


ivCompanion Animal Psychology. (2016). Children’s experiences of domestic violence and animal abuse. Retrieved from


viMcDonald, Shelby E. & Dmitrieva, Julia & Shin, Sunny & A. Hitti, Stephanie & Graham-Bermann, Sandra & R Ascione, Frank & Herbert Williams, James. (2017). The role of callous/unemotional traits in mediating the association between animal abuse exposure and behavior problems among children exposed to intimate partner violence. Child Abuse & Neglect. 72. 421-432. 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.09.004.