New online resource on animal cruelty and family violence

Image: Sven Lachmann from Pixabay

The New Zealand SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has launched an online portal providing resources for practitioners, scholars and students addressing the overlap of child abuse, family violence and animal cruelty.

The purpose of the resource is to support the early identification of co-existing child abuse, family violence and animal cruelty and to address the impact of animal cruelty on children and adults.

The SPCA Targeted Intervention Portal is divided into six areas:

  • Family Violence & Animal Cruelty
  • Impact of Animal Cruelty on Children
  • Children's Cruelty to Animals
  • Adolescence & Animal Cruelty
  • Professional Resources
  • Community

There are a range of resources including: case studies, research summaries, posters, webinars and tools for assessments and safety planning. The portal also provides a definition for animal cruelty, an overview of research, a reference list and one-page handout on the connection between family violence and animal cruelty. Access to the portal is free but requires a login.

The SPCA notes that identifying animal cruelty or abuse may lead to identification of other forms of family violence or child abuse:

"New Zealanders share their homes with 4.6 million companion animals and four out of five families with children aged nine to seventeen years live with at least one companion animal. A neglected and abused animal tethered in the backyard is often easier to spot than the abuse occurring behind closed doors. Children and other family members more readily disclose the concerns they have for the welfare of their animals, before they share the fears they have for their own safety. Therefore, the assessment of the animal’s welfare provides a window into family dynamics, the quality of the care and treatment of family members, and provides an opportunity to inquire about the welfare of the humans in the home."

Research has found links between animal abuse and child abuse and intimate partner violence. For more information see our Library Quick Topic on Animal Abuse.

Related news

Ill-treatment of household pets or other animals "whose welfare affects significantly, or is likely to affect significantly, a person’s well-being" is specified as a form of psychological abuse in section 11 of the Family Violence Act 2018, which comes into effect on 1 July 2019.

Women's Refuge published a report, Pet Abuse as part of Intimate Partner Violence Research (2018), which summarises results from a survey of nearly 1000 women about their experiences of partner violence and animal abuse.

A new charitable Trust, Pet Refuge, has begun work to build a shelter dedicated to housing pets affected by family violence.

Related media

NZ's first shelter for pets affected by family violence, Press Release: Women's Refuge, Scoop, 20.05.2019

Pet Refuge aims to help victims of domestic violence escape, Stuff, 20.05.2019

Pet Refuge: Hundreds stay in abusive relationships out of fear for beloved animals, NZ Herald, 20.05.2019