According to Carlisle-Frank & Flanagan, 2006, victims of domestic violence report that animal abuse incidents coincided with acts of violence against family members over 50% of the time. Meaning, it is common for those who face domestic violence to also witness the abuse of their pets. Tragically, pets are physically abused, intimidated, and sometimes killed as a means of extending the abuse of the human victims. Many professionals find that animal abuse may also be an indicator of other violence in the home. Yet when humans seek safety or legal remedies from domestic violence, those aiding them rarely inquire about companion animals in their home. Sadly, victims of domestic violence are often required to separate from their beloved pets in order to escape the abuse.
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. Depending on the situation, the pets may be included in orders of protection so that they, too, can be safely harbored from the abuser. Protecting both the human and companion animal is of utmost importance.