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Fleeing with Fido: an Analysis of What Canadian Domestic Violence Shelters Are Communicating Via their Websites about Leaving an Abusive Relationship when Pets Are Involved

Abstract

In response to the growing body of empirical research demonstrating a substantial co-occurrence of intimate partner violence (IPV) and animal abuse, domestic violence shelters are increasingly offering on- or off-site services to care for the pets of abused women accessing shelter services. This paper analyzes all public websites of first-stage shelters in Canada (n = 337) to offer the first examination of what these shelters are communicating about this co-occurrence of abuse and an appraisal of what services are available to survivors with pets. The findings indicate that less than half of the websites mention pets, and only 1% of shelters report offering on-site pet programs. There are significant relationships between websites addressing the role of pets in both safety planning and help-seeking among abused women and the provision of pet shelter services. The paper concludes with suggestions for pet-related information on domestic violence shelter websites in Canada and elsewhere.

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Notes

  1. We excluded programs that exclusively deal with service animals from these tests because service animals present a very different type of concern for shelters and are governed by regulations varying across geo-political jurisdictions (i.e. in some provinces there is more emphasis placed on accommodating people with service animals).

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Correspondence to Allison Gray.

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Gray, A., Barrett, B.J., Fitzgerald, A. et al. Fleeing with Fido: an Analysis of What Canadian Domestic Violence Shelters Are Communicating Via their Websites about Leaving an Abusive Relationship when Pets Are Involved. J Fam Viol 34, 287–298 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-018-0023-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-018-0023-z

Keywords

  • Intimate partner violence
  • Animal abuse
  • Domestic violence shelters
  • Pets
  • Co-occurring violence