Violence Prevention Program
The Violence Prevention Program (VPP) is responsible for raising awareness on the Connection between Animal Abuse and Interpersonal Violence. The VPP is also responsible for running the Pet Safekeeping and Emergency Boarding Programs.
No Excuse for Abuse…It’s never JUST an animal.
The Calgary Humane Society is leading an initiative to stop animal cruelty and reduce incidents of family violence and abuse through the Violence Prevention Program - "No Excuse for Abuse"
The purpose of this program is to:
- Educate the community on animal violence and cruelty
- Create awareness on the connection between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence
- To help intervene as early as possible to prevent future incidents of family violence and abuse.
We provide resources and tools to the community to help explain the connection between animal and family violence, how victims can protect their pet(s) when fleeing domestic violence and what to do when they witness animal cruelty and/or violence.
Is there a connection between animal cruelty and human violence?
Research has shown that there is a connection between animal abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse, bullying and other forms of violence. Intentional animal cruelty or abuse can be a warning sign that an individual has already experienced violence and may be predisposed to committing other crimes such as vandalism, arson, physical assault and even murder. A child who has abused an animal could be the victim of abuse and are at a greater risk of mimicking the abusive behaviour. If it goes unreported….everyone suffers.
What is the connection between animal cruelty and family violence?
Animal cruelty and/or abuse in the family represents a hierarchy of power and control. It is used to manipulate, control and isolate a victim of domestic violence. Pets are generally considered a part of the family and ultimately can share the suffering that occurs when there is violence in the home. The abuser may use violence, or threat of violence against animals, to terrorize, manipulate and control the human victim. Killing or removing the family pet can isolate the person who is being abused. Some victims will stay in destructive relationship due to threats against, or out of concern for, their companion animals. Animals may even be used to perpetrate sexual abuse. There is strong evidence connecting animals’ abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and elder abuse. This sometimes can even escalate to individuals outside of the family.
Calgary Humane Society Research
The Calgary Humane Society undertook a collaborative study with the YWCA Family Violence Prevention Centre, the Sheriff King Home and with researcher Sue McIntosh that was supported by RESOLVE Alberta. The 2001 study showed a direct connection between family violence and animal abuse in Calgary. It also indicated that animal cruelty may be a warning of future violence.
Here are key study results:
- 56% of participants reported their abuser had threatened to hurt or kill or had actually hurt or killed a family pet
- 65% reported their children were aware their pets had been hurt or killed and felt their children had been impacted
- 25% of participants reported they had delayed their decision to leave their situation out of fear for their pet's safety
- 21% reported their abusive partners had abused animals as a child
- 16% reported concerns their children may have hurt or killed a pet
Without intervention, the cycle of violence will continue. It's important to be responsible and take the opportunity to intervene when people or animals are abused end the cycle of violence.
How does the Calgary Humane Society help?
The Calgary Humane Society offers 2 programs to assist individuals in crisis; please see the Pet Safekeeping and Emergency Boarding sections for more information on these programs.
How can I help?
Understand and recognize signs of animal cruelty. Signs can include:
- Obvious signs of an animal in distress
- Inappropriate treatment of animals
- Behavioural signs (e.g. fear, aggression)
- Physical trauma (e.g. limping, bleeding)
- Poor body condition
- Neglected grooming
- Observed conditions (e.g. overcrowding, lack of cleanliness)
- Abuse of individuals in homes where animals reside
Report animal cruelty and violence by contacting:
- Calgary Police Service, 403-266-1234
- Humane Society, 403-205-4455
- City of Calgary Animal Services, 311
- Alberta SPCA, 1-800-455-9003 (rural Alberta)
Help prevent animal cruelty and violence by:
- Recognizing the signs and symptoms
- Respond to the situation
- Seek help
- Report all incidents of abuse….animal and human!
How can I learn more?
Please visit the following sites for information concerning the connection between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence:
Canadian Federation of Humane Societies
Alberta Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
American Humane Association;
Humane Society of the United States
The Calgary Humane Society works with a number of different organizations to help end the cycle of violence for all victims. Please see below for the list of organizations that CHS collaborates with in order to end violence against all victims.
Alberta College of Social Workers
Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters
Albert Health Services
Alliance to End Violence
Awo Taan Healing Lodge
Brenda Strafford Centre
Calgary Fire Department
Calgary Homeless Foundation
Calgary Police Service – Domestic Conflict Unit
Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter
Child and Youth Care Association of Alberta
City of Calgary Animal Services- Safe pet program
Rowan House – Black Diamond
Wheatland Shelter – Strathmore
YWCA Sheriff King Home