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In Britain, there are an estimated 570,000 telephone calls to the police each year from women and occasionally men who are suffering domestic violence. You could probably more than double that figure to well over 1 million because according to the British Crime Survey only 40.2% of actual domestic violence crime is reported to the police.
I'm sure the position is very similar in North America and indeed other countries were it may be worse, particularly those countries where the woman is subservient to the man for various reasons including religious reasons.
Let's say therefore, in the round, that there's lots of domestic violence and most of it is directed at women. Women often look after domestic cats. You can see the dilemma. In New York, USA at one time there were 50 domestic violence shelters but none would accept a pet.
Now, there are a growing number of pet friendly shelters in various sorts of buildings. There were 4 in 2008 and in 2014 there are 73 such shelters.
One of the shelters is run by the Urban Resource Institute. The shelter that they manage also provides veterinary and other help. This is all very welcome. I do not know whether Great Britain has similar facilities that are easy to locate. Cats Protection provide a specialist service.
|Abused Persian cat|
Apparently, in the USA, studies have found that about 70% of domestic violence survivors say that the perpetrators of domestic violence also threatened, killed or injured their pets. It is worth noting, also, that the person who suffered the violence delayed getting out of the home because they were worried about what would happen to their pet.
Citing one example, Pamela Isaac says that her boyfriend who was a drug user in the late 1990s not only beat her but used to dangle her cat out of the window to force her into obeying him. This particular relationship ended up with the man setting fire to their apartment with her cat inside. On this occasion the cat was not saved and died.
Probably, the most important “possession" of a woman escaping domestic violence would be her cat. I hope so anyway and therefore it would seem essential that there is somewhere where they can both go to simultaneously.
There would appear to still be a need for more pet friendly domestic violence shelters across United States and I would feel very confident in saying that there is probably a similar need in the UK.