Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse, Making the Link and Making a Difference
April Moore Kimberlee Shaw-Ellis

The link between domestic violence and animal abuse is unequivocally confirmed through data and research, yet few organizations develop strategies aimed at mitigating crimes against people and animals in a holistic manner. Law enforcement across the continent understand the importance of timely intervention and safety net programs for victims of violent crime. KC Pet Project’s Animal Services Division, a program whose philosophy is based upon trust building and community connection, is uniquely positioned to help bridge the gap between victims of domestic abuse and supportive services. Working together to promote the safety and well-being of the whole family is our goal. In partnership with Synergy, a non-profit group that provides integrated programs and shelter for victims of domestic violence, Animal Services Officers have been trained on Lethality Assessment. This assessment helps evaluate an individual’s degree of risk, thus enabling officers to connect that person and their pet with supportive services. We have a “solutions not excuses motto” at the KC Pet Project which adopts a whole family model to service delivery. For our Animal Services Officers, understanding the use and value of the Lethality Assessment ensures they are prepared to help families at risk get connected to the services they may need to get safe.

Key Learnings

  1. Power and control, understanding the abuse
  2. Identifying the cooccurrence of domestic violence and animal abuse
  3. Strategies and tools, making a difference in your community