Tag Archives: Abuse

This is (finally!) fantastic news for animals in abusive homes, and for the people who won’t leave them behind:

Massachusetts Dog is First in the State to be Protected under Domestic Violence Restraining Order

A six-year-old Labrador mix named Panzer is being kept in an unidentified location to protect him from a former abusive owner.  He is the first dog in Massachusetts to be recognized under a restraining order for domestic violence.

In August, Governor Deval Patrick signed a large bill called “An Act Further Regulating Animal Control.”  A smaller section of the law stipulates that possession of an animal may be awarded to a victim to “prohibit the accused from abusing, threatening or taking a pet.”  Previously, a judge could only mandate that the accused stay away from the victim and their child(ren).

Research has indicated that over 70 percent of abused women say their abusers have threatened to harm or kill their pets.  Nearly 50 percent of victims put off leaving abusive and dangerous situations for fear of what might happen to pets that get left behind.

“Leaving a pet behind is not an option,” Holmquist said.  “It’s about animals and their safety and removing the barrier so people can feel the pet is protected in a situation.”

Panzer is currently staying in a foster home while his mother and her young son stay at an out-of-state domestic violence shelter.

“It is hoped that [the judge’s] order for the inclusion of Panzer in [this] Restraining Order has set a precedent and that moving forward we will see a lot more of these Abuse Protection Orders,” said Marshfield Animal Control Officer Demi Goldman.

Hopefully this law will gain favor and be passed in other states.  Perhaps then domestic violence shelters might also open their hearts a little more to allow animals to stay with and be just as well-protected as their owners who were brave enough to leave and seek help.


More on courthouse service/support dogs:

Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan Jr. pets Bronksey, his newest employee, who is specially trained to aid crime victims. NYLJ/Rick Kopstein

A nice piece on having a service/support dog working for the DA’s office, and giving comfort to victims of crime who are testifying in court:

“They didn’t chose to be victims, they are coming to us for help and that process is very traumatic and the dog takes the edge off,” Ivany said.

Abuse Victims Look to D.A.’s Bronksey for Comfort


Human shelter taking animals, as they all should

Heroic Dog Saves Owner from Abusive Spouse, Incites Change in Shelter Policy

When the Rose Brooks Center for women took in a domestic violence victim and her heroic dog, they bent the rules in doing so, setting the wheels in motion for a much needed change in policy.

Like most battered women’s shelters, the Rose Brooks Center did not accommodate pets. But this was no ordinary dog: when her boyfriend tried to kill the woman with a hammer, her fearless Great Dane jumped in the way, laying over her body and taking most of the blows until the man threw both of them out of a second story window. The dog suffered multiple broken bones in the attack, sparing his owner’s life in the process.

Despite their injuries, the woman was able to escape with her dog, and eventually made her way to the Rose Brooks Center. When they offered her a bed and told her no pets were allowed, she was defiant, and for the first time in its history, the shelter overlooked regulations and allowed the dog to stay.

That decision would eventually lead to a permanent change in policy. Knowing that forty percent of battered women with pets stay in abusive relationships in order to protect their pets, the center’s chief executive officer, Susan Miller, said adding a pet-friendly wing would remove a serious barrier that women face when attempting to leave an abusive relationship. Miller was the one who had ultimately made the call to admit the woman and her dog.

This is so good.

I have many posts here about why, but here’s an intro:

Animal abuse and violence against women and children

“We were bored.” Animal abuse, the abuse of women and children, and the erosion of empathy

Animal abuse laws begin to catch on –

Cute-spam and a happy ending

(Turn down the music or be annoyed.)

Meanwhile, from the people-are-evil-but-then-people-are-occasionally-also-awesome-but-mainly-LOOK-AT-HER-FLOPPY-CUTENESS-WITH-FRUIT-BAT-EARS-NO-LESS! files:

Deformed puppy, rescued from trash, learns to walk

Working dogs help victims of traumatic crimes testify in court

 Rosie, the first judicially approved courtroom dog in New York, was in the witness box here nuzzling a 15-year-old girl who was testifying that her father had raped and impregnated her. Rosie sat by the teenager’s feet. At particularly bad moments, she leaned in.

When the trial ended in June with the father’s conviction, the teenager “was most grateful to Rosie above all,” said David A. Crenshaw, a psychologist who works with the teenager. “She just kept hugging Rosie.”

Now an appeal planned by the defense lawyers is placing Rosie at the heart of a legal debate that will test whether there will be more Rosies in courtrooms in New York and, possibly, other states.

This is a great use of therapy/support dogs.

It will be interesting to see if the defense lawyers and higher courts let their use stand.

You can read the whole thing here: Dog Helps Young Rape Victim Testify

Rehab for Vick dogs continues

Nice piece in the Boston Globe about the Vick dogs’ recovery at Best Friends:

Vick pit bulls on the slow road to recovery

Take the case of Little Red. Three years ago, she would race to the nearest corner and cower, her face buried against the wall, at the sight of any human or dog. Or Ellen, who would growl at anyone who came near her, especially if they dared glance over at her food dish.

Both dogs had such bad problems, experts said, they’d be better off dead.

These days, though, Little Red wags her tail a mile a minute and is almost inseparable from her new, best buddy — a cattle dog mix named Google. And Ellen, a tannish-brown bundle of energy, still loves her food but loves her visitors even more — smothering them with kisses as soon as they walk through the door.

These dogs and 13 others are rehabilitating at the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, a world away from where their lives began, chained in basements and forced into dogfighting rings as part of the business bankrolled by Vick, the Eagles quarterback who has been out of prison for more than a year, and just this week received his first paid endorsement deal since his release.

On the one hand, the Vick dogs are all success stories — on the road to recovery and serving as ambassadors for a breed that has been widely derided as too dangerous.

In another respect, though, their recoveries are slow and sometimes painful, many filled with diseases, injuries and skittishness that manifested themselves under their stewardship of Vick.

“Some people might say, ‘Three years, that seems like such a long time,'” said John Garcia, a manager of the dog operation at Best Friends, who has done extensive work with the Vick pit bulls. “But we measure their progress in baby steps, especially when they were on the other side of this for as long as some of these dogs were.”

Bad Rap has done some great work for these dogs, too.

Media reporting 101

Via Bad Rap, a fact sheet on biased media reporting from the National Canine Resource Council:

Consider the extreme differences in the media reporting of four separate fatal dog attacks in 2008

December 2008

An Arizona woman was killed by one or two dogs identified by authorities to be Labrador Retrievers.

One local newspaper published an article following the discovery of her body.

A California man was attacked and killed by one or two dogs that the media identified as his grandson’s pit bulls.

This incident was reported by at least 285 media outlets, both nationally (in 47 U.S. states) and internationally (in 8 other countries). MSNBC, Forbes, USA Today, Fox News, CBS News, and ABC News all picked up the story. (One dog was later reported to be a mastiff-pit bull mix.)

September 2008

A New Jersey infant was killed by a dog reported to be a Siberian Husky.

The incident was reported only in the local media, in approximately a dozen articles. All reports described the incident as an unfortunate accident. The infant was reported to have been simply “bitten” by the dog. The dog was described as “non aggressive.” One headline read “Dog that killed infant only intended to be playful.”

A Nevada infant was killed by two dogs reported to be pit bulls.

More than 200 outlets around the world reported this incident, most with the words “pit bull” in the headline. Television news reports and a recording of the 911 call are still available online. Stock photos of pit bulls baring their teeth illustrated many of the newspaper accounts. All articles reported the dogs to be “vicious,” and/or “aggressive.” The dogs were reported to have either “burst,” “barged,” “forced,” or “broke” into the home from the backyard, in order to “maul” the infant. (One month later officials revealed that the dogs had gained entry into the home after one dog, “used a paw to open the living room sliding door.”)

Sensationalized reporting that focuses our attention on breed leads us away from an understanding of the complex circumstances surrounding these tragic and extraordinarily rare events. It will not produce safer and more humane communities.

Breeds are not the problem. People are.

And the breed bans caused by ridiculous, irresponsible reporting like this are never appropriate.