It is estimated today that approximately 70% of American households have at least one pet; of which 98% consider their pets to be companions or members of the family. Research in the fields of psychology, child development, social work, criminology, veterinary medicine and law enforcement have supported the opinion that violence against animals frequently co-occurs with family violence in such areas as elder abuse, child abuse and domestic violence.
In 2009, the Ohio Domestic Violence Network (ODVN) formed the Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse Steering Committee who conducted an initial assessment of needs and services available in the state of Ohio.
Since publishing this report, the committee has continued its research work thanks to support from the Kenneth A. Scott Charitable Trust a KeyBank Trust. The Trust was established in 1995 to promote humane treatment of companion animals and to prevent cruelty to small animals, including wildlife. The purpose of the 2011 grant award was to compile a resource directory for pet safety services available to families facing domestic violence in Ohio. The grant funding allowed us to contract with Lesley Ashworth, a national expert on the link between interpersonal violence and abuse of animals. During the course of this project, regional meeting were scheduled with Ohio's domestic violence shelter Executive Directors to provide resource information and ascertain what additional support would be helpful.
The Forms section offers examples that have been used or recommended by other programs – many of which were not in he State of Ohio. These are definitely samples and are not intended as legal advice. Please have your legal counsel review any forms you plan to use or procedures you intend to implement.
In 2012, Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary, located near Ravenna, Ohio formed the "Barnes of Love" program specifically designed to provide foster care for farm animals at risk in domestic violence situations. We believe this to be the first program of its kind in the country. The Ohio State Bar Association Animal Law Committee has graciously offered to help with this project and is currently reviewing the policies and procedures of the program. Once the program is officially in place, specific information will be posted on this website and training on how to access the program will be made available.
As a work-in-progress, if you have information you believe should be added, or forms that address other situations not mentioned in the material provided, please feel free to share them with us so we can build a comprehensive resource for Ohio's domestic violence programs.