With the surge in reported incidents of gender-based violence during the lockdown, animal shelters have also raised concerns over the safety of animals.
This after a dog was recently admitted to the Cape of Good Hope SPCA veterinary facility after it was allegedly stabbed by an abusive partner during a domestic dispute.
Spokesperson Belinda Abraham said such cases were common among perpetrators of gender-based violence and those who abused animals.
“Cross-population studies on intimate partner violence estimate that between one in five and one in three women report experiences of physical intimate partner violence in their lifetime; the actual rates are likely to be much higher and we therefore have every reason to fear for the animals living in homes that are being shattered by domestic violence.
“Research suggests that intimate partner violence perpetrators may be more likely to use animal maltreatment as a coercive tactic when their partner (victim) has a valued bond with the animal and/or an emotional attachment that can be exploited,” Abraham said.
Animal Welfare Society of SA spokesperson Allan Perrins said that with the increase of gender-based violence cases during the lockdown there was a likelihood that animals were suffering the same abuse.
“Although there are no statistics of animals we admitted due to injuries caused by intimate partner violence, we can almost certainly assume that defenceless animals have been at the receiving end of domestic disputes,” Perrins said. “There is a proven link and more than sufficient empirical evidence.
“It should be remembered that abuse can take many evil forms; denial of access to food, water and shelter, inhumane tethering, inhumane confinement, verbal abuse and threatening behaviour and utterances,” he said, adding that perpetrators of such cases had been successfully prosecuted.
Mdzananda Animal Clinic spokesperson Marcelle du Plessis said that following the easing of lockdown restrictions to level 3 the clinic had experienced an influx of dogs.
“On a busy week we usually have three animals handed over. In the first two weeks of lockdown level 3, 30 dogs were handed over.
“We are not sure if it is in relation to lockdown level 3 and people going back to work, or if it was due to winter weather or if it was just coincidental,” she said.
Abraham said the SPCA hoped to work with shelters for victims of domestic violence in the future, to encourage the admission of pets with the family unit.