Event unites vets and domestic violence support workers


domestic violence and animal abuse

Lucy’s Project, the peak organisation raising awareness of the link between animal abuse and domestic violence in Australia, will this weekend bring together family violence specialists, veterinary professionals and policy makers for the Lucy’s Project conference.

Called Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse – Strategic and Practical Perspectives, the event is being held on 22-23 September and will be hosted by the University of Melbourne’s School of Social Sciences and the Melbourne Veterinary School.

The conference aims to raise awareness of the link between family violence and animal welfare, and to streamline responses.

Lucy’s Project founder Anna Ludvik said research in Victoria found 53 per cent of women who had experienced domestic violence had reported that a violent partner had hurt or killed one of their pets. Even without threats or abuse, many people experience threats to their pets as a means of control.

“Companion animals are also often cited as the reason a victim returns to an abusive home or delays fleeing a violent situation,” Ludvik said, adding that many people were unaware of emergency pet accommodation and veterinary services for victims’ animals.

“Vets have taken a leadership role in helping to identify and raise awareness of this issue, but many vets do not feel they have the training or knowledge to link animal owners to services,” she said.

“We are now working to offer practical and strategic perspectives that veterinarians and family violence practitioners can use to understand what other services are available and to create a network of collaboration.”

The two-day conference will see a variety of talks and panel discussions with a target audience of family violence specialists, academics, and veterinary professionals. The general public is also welcome.

A half-day workshop for veterinarians and veterinary nurses will be held on Sunday 23 September, delivered by veterinary experts in forensics, imaging, emergency and critical care, and family violence practitioners.

Domestic violence practitioners will also benefit from half-day specialised workshops.

Veterinarians will be able to earn continuing professional development points for participation.

Register here for the conference.


  1. My ex denied us and the pets the necessities of life and finally we had to get a DV order. Teaching us ‘who was boss’. There were a cat and dog involved. He retaliated by escalated separation violence in and out of court which started by running over the 1 year old cat requiring $2000 veterinary surgery. We knew it was him because he could not help himself and breached the order to ring and ask ”how’s your cat?”
    Very kind Vet said he would wait for payment and went ahead with urgent surgery. He said cat had been run over by a car he obviously knew and took too long to get out of the way. In court proceedings his nasty, very expensive barrister said I was pathetic and out of touch, expecting the judge to a) take this conduc and cruelty into account and b) expect the ex to pay for the vet. Still has not been paid 9 years later. Still trying to get justice. Still homeless. Still got the cat, dog passed away after developing Cushings disease – adrenal exhaustion. Stressed to death. Very sad. Am still paying the vet for the treatment and the euthanesia by way of Newstart fortnightly.
    Ex never paid a cent since for their care and judge could not have cared less about them either despite her finding that I was left destitute, homeless and on welfare by his abandoning us. What was the purpose of her finding that? She did nothing. One would not have believed this was an Australian Court. Could not leave animals with him he would not have fed them. His standard of living went up dramatically of course. Only he could afford lawyer (s), as well as holidays and luxury standard of living and travel.
    Whereas for us, 7 years of unstable housing because of no proper orders made, and finally we were picked up by a wonderful Magistrate who intervened and placed us in emergency housing organisation care, but we were told that animals were not allowed. Either had to risk eviction if discovered, or ”get rid of them”. We had to hide them in suitcases up and down three flights of stairs. Traumatic for all concerned. Then we were placed in a longer term two storey block. Same proviso, even with a housing programme supposed to be helping women and children, and their pets, in crisis. Their private landlord says pets not allowed. Expected to just discard pets as if they are merely unsuitable furniture and not part of the family – treated as if being unreasonable or ungrateful. not complying. We had to risk eviction but were expected to tolerate the resident rats and cockroaches running freely instead. When their presence was discovered by agent, despite no damage to property, coped with further stress to argue our rights to our pets whilst trying to cope with family violence and family law proceedings in court, son in 6th school, trekking long way to school, isolated and and still having no money whilst landlord objected to the pets. Eventually agreed to ‘tolerate them”. Grateful for that. However, still fighting to have proper orders made about anything in family law. Farcical being only about money and judge clearly rewarding the one who can afford a lawyer so the court can pretend their has been proper administration of justice, accuse self rep as being ‘vexatious’ daring to ask for rules, laws and principles of justice to be applied, and sole focus of judge being on achieving target of getting cases off the books. No one cared about the failure of the judge to satisfy the purpose of Family Law Act which is to protect children and that both parties can move on after final orders are made. Who cares if the victims are left worse off than when they started naively trusting the court? She even told me that I could not expect the court to make remedy for the relationship break up”That I was an ”adult” and could move on. How do you do that when ex keeps everything? No one was asking that the court fix anything as if it was the discretion of the court. I was merely the application of the lawful property and maintenance rules and disclosure rules to be applied to both parties not to benefit just the perpetrator and enrich him and his lawyers.
    Lucy’s Project is a great start, but I have to say we would have been devastated if we had to surrender the pets at all. They are loyal and keep some semblance of normality for a child in trauma. They also get stressed apart from their family. They are also a safety measure, with the dog barking and he kept us safe in cars and other unsafe sleeping places.


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