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The Link Between Human-Animal Voilence: A Panel Discussion

Room C

1.5 CE Hour

Presented By

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    In-Person, Live Webinar



More than 70% of homes have a pet with more than 69 million dogs and 45 million cats homed throughout the US. Of these pets, 14% were acquired during the pandemic. Essentially, pets are family members. In fact, the American Pet Products Survey and ASPCA survey (2022) found that 80% of pet owners regard their pet as a family member with 83% calling themself a parent/mom/dad to their pet. Only 1% of pet owners consider their pets to be property. Pet owners create social events like birthdays (59% celebrate) and dating (90% won’t date someone who is not fond of their pet) around their pet.


Eighty-four percent named companionship as the primary role of their pet with 52% citing that their pet listens to them best. An important nuance is that women are the primary caregivers in 81% of pet-households. Thus, there is certainly an important consideration to women as dominant victims and survivors of interpersonal violence, and women as caretakers of animals who are victims and survivors of inter-species violence.


People make decisions about when to leave dangerous situations, and where to go based on their ability to take their pets with them. Victims of interpersonal violence have reported waiting to fully leave a dangerous home 7-10x longer because of their inability to take their pet(s) with them (e.g. Ascione, 2021; Arkow, 2023). During the pandemic (2019-2023), evidence supports that domestic violence fatalities rose by 62%, and companion animal intake rose due to cruelty cases, especially in rural areas of Ohio. While there is a growing body of research about The Link, the focus is post-abuse, meaning people included in research have experienced abuse or have abused others (e.g. Felthous & Kellert, 1987; McDonald, 2015).


In April of 2021, Ohio House Bill 33 “Establish animal abuse reporting requirements” was enacted. This novel legislation is the first to recognize The Link and clearly define a cross-reporting mechanism for professionals throughout the state of Ohio. Though this legislation is progressive and timely, there were no reporting mechanisms established at the outset of its enactment. This session will review preliminary data from survey and focus group data from the professionals identified in the legislation. The data also includes a review of public records to determine a new typology of those who engage in animal abuse and concordance of animal abuse and other forms of IPV within Ohio.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe Ohio specific legislation (i.e. HB 33) including progress to date and impact on the social work field/practice.

  • Review with participants the link between animal abuse, family and community violence.

  • Animal cruelty law enforcement is individual to the state and often privatized, and reporting of statistics by private organizations is not required/done.

CE Policy
This course is fiscally sponsored by International Association of Veterinary Social Work . There may be potential biases or conflicts of interest inherent to this relationship, and it must be disclosed to participants. These conflicts of interest have no bearing on the course content and have been resolved.
Aviva Vincent
Vicki Deisner
Virginia Behmer Porter
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