RSPCA backs harder family violence pet law

New Victorian laws will recognise animals as potential victims of domestic violence.
New Victorian laws will recognise animals as potential victims of domestic violence.

The RSPCA says there's an "enormous need" for support services to help people fleeing domestic violence to take their pets with them.

New Victorian laws will recognise animals as potential victims of domestic violence after a motion by the Animal Justice Party passed unanimously in state parliament on Wednesday.

RSPCA Victoria chief executive Liz Walker says the link between family violence and animal abuse is well documented in research and by the RSPCA's inspectors.

"We hear it time and time again. We hear heartbreaking stories," she said.

The RSPCA says one in three women delay leaving family violence situations due to concerns about leaving their pets behind.

Dr Walker said with almost two-thirds of the community owning a cat or a dog, there was an "enormous need" for animal accommodation that could specifically help people fleeing violence.

"If we made it available it would be full pretty quickly," she said.

The organisation provided emergency boarding for just under 150 animals in Victoria in the past financial year.

Dr Walker said because animals were considered property, if they were owned by a perpetrator of domestic violence the victim may delay leaving a violent situation.

"They are used as a way of power and control over victims," she said.

RSPCA Victoria would also like to see pets able to be included in apprehended violence orders, and for frontline staff to receive training to identify and report the abuse of animals in domestic violence situations.

"Numerous studies have shown that in households experiencing domestic violence and abuse, there is also a high probability of animal abuse," Dr Walker said.

Australian Associated Press