Practice Area: Domestic Violence


Companion Animals & Domestic Violence

The maltreatment of animals, usually companion animals, may occur in homes where there is domestic violence, yet there is limited information about the prevalence of such maltreatment. Victims of domestic violence report that animal abuse incidents coincided with acts of violence against family members over 50% of the time, according to Carlisle-Frank & Flanagan, 2006. Various forms of animal abuse occur and have included punching, hitting, choking, drowning, shooting, stabbing and throwing against walls or down stairs.

An act of violence against a family pet or, even threatening an act of violence, is a form of domestic violence and is a violation of Colorado’s criminal code. While the criminal code expressly includes protection of an animal when threats of violence or violent acts toward the animal are used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge, the civil statute is a bit different. The definition of civil protection order can include any provision to protect the victim from imminent danger to life or health.

“About a hundred miles down the interstate; he opened the car door and ordered my daughter Christine to kick our dog Dusty out. When she refused, he told her he would do to Dusty what he did to Rocko, only he would do it right this time, and she could watch while he tortured and killed Dusty and dump her off the side of the road, too. Then he said he would come home and kill me and Christine would be left alone with him.” Christine, whom he later raped, was 8 years old.

- Millikin, Marsha (1999). First-person account: Life and death inside the cycles of violence. In Ascione and Arkow (Eds.), Child abuse, domestic violence and animal abuse: Linking  the circles of compassion for prevention and intervention. (pp.
177-188). West Lafayette: Purdue University Press.