Animal Cruelty in a Relationship

In Domestic Violence, Relationships by Elizabeth Stephenson

Our pets can be every bit a part of our family as anyone else. We love them, arrange our lives and travel around them, and spend ill-advised amounts of money spoiling them. Remember that $75 dog jacket? We also want our furry family members to be safe, and we regularly attend to their physical and medical needs. But what happens when you observe or suspect that your significant other has abused the family pet? There is no clear-cut answer to this question, but the reality is that difficult choices and conversations are going to have to happen.

Animal Cruelty is Wrong

If you have directly witnessed your significant other harm a family pet, or if your animal is behaving in an unusually fearful way toward that person, it is important that you not look the other way. It should go without saying that animal cruelty is wrong. Our pets are loyal companions that rely on us and often demonstrate unconditional love.

In addition, animal cruelty is illegal. In North Carolina, illegal acts against an animal include wounding, tormenting, killing, or depriving an animal of food or water. The North Carolina Attorney General has a statewide animal welfare hotline to report these acts. This can be done by telephone, mail, or online, which may then be referred to the proper authorities. These acts can also be directly reported to your local sheriff or animal control.

The Behavior Will Get Worse, Not Better

On a relationship level, it is much easier said than done to simply report your partner. If there has been a history of violence in your relationship, involving either you or your children, then unfortunately, animal cruelty probably is not surprising. Animal abuse creates a similar dilemma as when domestic violence or child abuse occurs. You need the abuser to stop, but you love them, are afraid, lack the financial or emotional resources to get away, lack confidence in law enforcement and the courts to make thing better, or you don’t want your partner to get arrested or lose their job. It is an incredibly complex balance that you need help with.

If this is the first time that anything like this has happened, and there was no prior indication of this type of behavior, this situation must come as a big surprise. It is important to take appropriate steps to protect your animal, while also keeping yourself and your children safe. Unfortunately, like with child abuse or family violence, when animal abuse begins, it is likely to get progressively worse unless there is some sort of intervention. Whether this involves calling the proper authorities, seeking a therapist to assist your partner, separating from your partner, speaking with a family violence shelter for ideas, or taking some form of legal action, it is important to act.

Get Help

The New Direction Family Law has represented clients in all areas of family law, including child custody and divorce. Our team also has an extensive history in advocating for clients in family violence situations. If there is family violence, child abuse, or animal abuse occurring, give us a call. We can provide thorough and discreet legal advice and help you make plans to keep your loved ones safe. In addition, our team can direct you to the proper professionals to help you through this complicated situation. We serve Wake, Johnston, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Nash, Granville, Franklin, and Durham counties. Call our team today at (919) 719-3470 for a consultation, or visit us online at our website.