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woman with face in handsWomen may delay leaving an abusive partner if they co-own a pet, say the authors of an article published this week.

Researchers issue call to fund spots for pets in domestic violence shelters

Decisive action must be taken to remove the barriers to leaving abusive relationships — and one of those barriers is companion animals, says a team of researchers.

UWindsor professors Amy Fitzgerald, Betty Jo Barrett, and Patti Timmons Fritz, along with Deborah McPhee of Brock University and Rochelle Stevenson of Thompson Rivers University, wrote an opinion piece on the topic published Tuesday in the Conversation, which shares news and views from the academic and research community.

“Companion animals, or pets, aren’t generally thought of as barriers, yet they often are in the context of intimate partner violence,” they write. “Most domestic violence shelters in Canada … don’t accommodate pets.

“Many Canadians must decide whether to remain with their abuser or flee and leave their pets behind.”

Their research indicates that individuals whose pets are abused and who delay leaving abusive relationships are particularly at risk — as are their pets. They call for federal funding for domestic violence shelters to create pet programs.

“The love between pets and people can be a great source of support, particularly in the midst of a pandemic, an abusive relationship, or both,” the article states. “Now is the time to take decisive action to remove it as an obstacle to leaving an abusive relationship.”

Read the entire piece, “People in abusive relationships face many barriers to leaving — pets should not be one,” in the Conversation.