Newly released Domestic Abuse Act guidance now includes abusive behaviour that has a direct or indirect impact on pets.
Following the Surviving Economic Abuse campaign, the guidance formally recognises financial abuse—the control of a person’s financial situation making it impossible for them to care for their pets—as a form of domestic abuse.
According to animal charity, Dogs Trust, almost 60% of professionals who work in the domestic abuse sector were aware of cases where pets, or an owner's ability to care for a pet, had been impacted by financial abuse.
It says that people going through financial abuse are often subjected to the emotional trauma and distress of looking on helplessly while a beloved pet suffers untreated medical conditions or starving from lack of food.
Amy Hyde, Dogs Trust Outreach Projects Manager, said:
Every day we see the devastating impact that economic abuse has on the dogs that we foster, as well as the emotional distress that it causes their owners, so we are delighted that this type of behaviour involving pets has been included in the Domestic Abuse Act guidance. Often perpetrators will withhold funds for vital veterinary care or dog food, controlling every expenditure.
The charity, which has been advocating for this to be included in the Act, says as in the case of couples with children, many people are forced to stay in abusive relationships for fear of the welfare of their pets.
We know that alongside economic abuse, dogs are also used to coerce and control emotionally—97% of professionals working in the sector say this is the case. This can range from the physical abuse of the animal, through to repeatedly threatening to harm, kill or ‘get rid’ of the dog.
Hereare some resources for reporting domestic abuse in the UK.