Karyn Lohse, Pets in Crisis co-ordinator with a pup rescued from domestic violence. Photo Sherele Moody / APN NewsDesk
Karyn Lohse, Pets in Crisis co-ordinator with a pup rescued from domestic violence. Photo Sherele Moody / APN NewsDesk Sherele Moody

Pets bear the brunt of domestic and family violence

A THREE-YEAR-OLD labrador-rottweiler cross left with a gaping infected wound after one of its owners tried to cut out its microchip.

A one-year-old manx cat kicked in the stomach so many times he was on the brink of death when he was rescued.

These are just two of the voiceless victims of domestic violence.

And these are the lucky ones - they ended up in the arms of animal aid workers.

Every year, thousands of pets across the country bear the brunt of domestic and family violence. Often their only hope is Queensland's Pets in Crisis, NSW's Pets in Peril or the RSPCA-run Safe Beds for Pets.

Pets in Crisis looks after about 300 animals a year, with many entering the program with injuries sustained from cruel attacks.

Through Pets in Crisis, dogs and cats from violent homes are delivered to local RSPCA shelters, where they are desexed and vaccinated, receive health care and are fostered until they can be returned once their households are safe.


Each animal stays in the program for an average 35 days.

Pets in Peril, run by Animal Aid and the Eastern Domestic Violence Service, helps about 100 families a year and costs about $30,000 a year to operate.

Pets in Crisis costs about $120,000 a year to run.

Karyn Lohse, co-ordinator of the Queensland program, said the service was the only chance of survival for many pets.

"The program is designed to give women peace of mind that their animals are going to be cared for when they are escaping domestic violence and going into refuges," she said.

"They (the animals) get kicked, they get hit or punched or thrown.

"We've had animals that die as a result of their injuries as well."

Ms Lohse said there were two cases she would never forget.

"We had a dog where the perpetrator tried to remove its microchip," she said.

"And it had become so ulcerated that the dog had a massive tumour on the back of his neck.

"Last year we had a cat that had been kicked repeatedly in the stomach by the perpetrator and it was bleeding internally.

"When we got the cat we raced it to the RSPCA where they took it straight in for emergency surgery. It did survive but it took about eight weeks to recover."

The Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence report handed to the State Government last month recommended creating a refuge that caters for families with pets

Anyone can fall victim to violence

THERE are no barriers to becoming a victim of domestic violence.

The crime crosses every gender, age, socio-economic, sexuality, ethnic and religious divide.

It's true the victims are mainly women and the perpetrators are overwhelmingly male, but children, the elderly and men can also fall under the epidemic's dark cloud.

The One in Three campaign says men are the victims in one-third of domestic violence cases and that 94% of their attackers are women.

And at least 100,000 cases of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation go unreported in Australia each year, according to a submission on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website.

Federal Social Services Assistant Minister Mitch Fifield said mistreatment of elderly parents was "unacceptable".

"Older people can be among the most vulnerable in our community," he said.

"They are entitled to the full protection of the law, whether in their homes or residential aged care

University of Queensland domestic violence expert Dr Silke Meyer said long-term impacts on young witnesses could be devastating.

"Children growing up in households where there is parental violence have a much greater risk of experiencing violence or abuse than children who don't grow up with parents who are abusive towards each other," she said.

"They are immediate direct victims of the abuse even if the perpetrator never lays hands on them.

"They suffer anything from learning disabilities to behavioural disabilities." - APN NEWSDESK


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