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Animal Cruelty/Human Violence AwarenessWeek


CONTACT: Roseann Trezza, Executive Director
(973) 824-7080


(Newark, NJ) -- There is a well-documented connection between domestic violence and animal abuse. The Associated Humane Societies/Popcorn Park Zoo is raising awareness of that connection as Animal Cruelty/Human Violence Awareness Week gets underway April 16, 2007.

Roseann Trezza, Executive Director of the Associated Humane Societies/Popcorn Park Zoo explains, “According to Frank Ascione, PhD at Utah State University and noted author, statistics show that when there is a violent person living in a home, it is often the dog or cat who become the victims. Batterers often use the family pet in order to threaten and intimidate children, spouses, significant others and even elderly family members. Just like children, pets need a safe place to live.”

A survey of the 50 largest shelters in the United States suggests that 74 percent of battered women in shelters reported having a pet. Of these women, 71 percent reported that their abuser also abused the animal. More than 85 percent of the women and 63 percent of children in shelters disclosed incidents of pet abuse in their homes.

Trezza explains, “This survey suggests the need for increased assessment in domestic violence programs and increased training of domestic violence staff on issues of animal abuse. There is also room for collaboration between domestic violence shelters and programs working to rescue animals from abuse. In addition, children who witness animal abuse are at greater risk of becoming abusers themselves.”

In New Jersey, Assembly Bill A3082 (Fisher, Burzichelli) would authorize courts to include animals in domestic violence restraining orders. It is waiting for a full vote by the Assembly. Several other states have enacted similar measures.

Trezza says there are many ways people can protect the animals and pets in their communities. “Educating our youth is crucial if we are to make life better for animals. Children can draw posters, collect supplies for the local shelter or keep the beaches, lakes and parks free of ring tops and soda cans to protect marine life, shore birds and other wildlife. There are many ways for kids to learn how to properly treat an animal. Many schools have animal clubs for this reason.”

Trezza also suggests setting up a Neighborhood Watch for Animals. “Similar to the national Crime Watch program, people should know the animals that live in their community. If they get loose, know who to contact. If they are outside without food and water for long periods at a time or if a neighborhood child is throwing rocks at them, reach out for animal welfare or law enforcement help.”


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