In 20% of the cases where you see an animal being abused, you’ll find a person in that same household also being abused. Likewise, in up to 50%* of the domestic cases where you find a person being abused, you’ll find an animal at that same residence also being abused. Studies out of England, USA and Australia confirm this link between human and animal abuse in a domestic setting. This data may be the single biggest missed opportunity to prevent and stop abuse in a domestic setting yet it remains virtually unknown.
"When animals are abused, people are at risk; when people are abused, animals are at risk"
From Understanding the Link between Violence to Humans and Violence to Animals. By The American Humane Society
Award-winning author Wendy Sneddon is passionate about educating pre-school children on empathy and encourages children to “just tell someone” when they notice animal abuse. But Sneddon noticed a problem. A young child is likely to tell a teacher or a parent. If they tell a teacher, and the teacher reports the abuse to their local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) — neither may be aware of the significance of the link between human and animal abuse -- we help an animal and possibly leave behind a child, an elderly parent or a domestic partner -- anyone who may also be suffering abuse at the hands of the same individual. And, If a child tells a parent that the family pet is being abused, there is a good chance that this parent is also a victim of the same abuse and, so, no change will be made. The Animal Legal Defense Fund in America reports that 50% of people continue to live in an abusive household because they fear for the pet left behind.
“If social workers or police go into a home because domestic violence has been reported and an animal is also in that home, it’s possible that the best thing to do would be to report it to the local SPCA so they could also follow-up – But most of them don’t even think about it because the link between animal and human abuse is not well known.” And, likewise, if the SPCA removes an animal from a home because of abuse, it’s possible that the best thing to do is notify a local family welfare agency or the police for follow-up and education,” says Sneddon.
“Once enough veterinarians, police, social workers, teachers, parents and medical doctors and the public at large know the link between animal and human abuse, these groups will find a way to coordinate their activities at a local level to devise protocols and systems to help prevent or stop domestic abuse of all kinds.
Sneddon is leading a public service campaign called “Just Tell Someone!” to draw attention to the link between animal and human abuse and the problems caused by welfare agencies not looking at this data and the solutions. “People will help if they know help is needed and they know how to help,” says Sneddon.
An award-winning author and fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management, Wendy is a UK-based experienced business coach with 25-plus years of helping start-ups, strategic planning, and staff management/training. In addition to her successful executive coaching practice, Wendy is a specialist in management of veterinary practices focusing on team development and practice expansion. Passionate about ending abuse against both human beings and animals, Wendy Sneddon is Secretary of The Links Group**, a multi-agency interest group working to promote a Zero Tolerance Policy that begins with educating young children about empathy and standing up to all forms of abuse. “We should be educating pre-school children before they reach seven (the end of the ‘imprint’ period where kids’ beliefs about what's right and wrong are founded, and behaviours are developed),” says Wendy. She adds “children must learn to not tolerate any form of violence to themselves, their pets or others. If they witness it, they should tell someone.”
In this capacity, Sneddon is also a media resource and speaker on animal welfare, supporting the creation of foster care for animals fleeing violent households and connecting agencies in different sectors looking to work cooperatively to prevent and stop domestic abuse of humans and animals.
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