I didn’t get it when I was enduring many years of verbal and emotional abuse that whenever the threat was made to kill or harm our dog, it was a predictable red flag that domestic violence was present and at work in my life. It was also one of the primary reasons I chose to stay as long as I did. The mentality of his threatening to kill our pet did not register in my mind that I could be the next threat of harm or death—not until it finally came to that.
Over the years girlfriends would share with me their own experiences. One coworker confided in me that when she left her marriage she had to leave her beloved cocker spaniel behind, but only on a temporary basis. After realizing she was gone, her husband called her on the phone and said, “I have your dog right here. Now, listen to this… BAM!” She heard a gunshot, a whimper, and then a maniacal laugh. I thought, “How absolutely sordid and sick to shoot a dog out of jealousy.” I realize it was much more than that now.
Today a handful of agencies and shelters are collaborating with local animal shelters, the SPCA or veterinary clinics in their area to “house” the pets temporarily. Many even provide, at no cost, the basic inoculations, food and boarding. My vision is to see this become the norm, rather than the exception. One local organization, The Spring, has set this program into place, and finds it working well for guests with pets.
Far too many people dismiss words regarding aggression against family pets as “just an idle threat.” They are not. They are one of the first bright red flags waving in your face of the trouble to come. Take it seriously. That threat could lead to violence against the pet, followed by violence to you!