University of Sydney study to look at the link between pet abuse and domestic violence

Dr Lydia Tong, from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Veterinary Science has been showing vets how to tell the difference between bone fractures caused by accidents and those caused by abuse to pets.

Dr Tong’s fracture identification methods give vets the confidence to identify cases of violence against pets.  Now in a new joint study with Domestic Violence NSW, Dr Tong is looking deeper into the connection between cases of pet abuse and domestic violence to assess the need for better services, which protect both human and animal victims.

"Around 70 percent of women escaping violent homes also report pet abuse," Dr Tong said. "So vets are often the first to see evidence of abuse in a family, when they treat injured pets."

"Different forces on bones can tell a story—the skeleton of an animal keeps a distinct record that indicates the force applied to bones from past injuries, breaks or fractures. But it can often be difficult for vets to say with confidence whether a fracture has resulted from abuse or accident."

In her research Dr Tong had identified five key features of fractures caused by abuse that vets can look out for.  She says that "US studies tell us that domestic violence perpetrators who also abuse pets are more dangerous—they have increased rates of physical and sexual violence and stalking, and are more likely to kill their partners.

"We need to know more about the relationship between animal and human abuse in Australia so that we can recognise abuse earlier, save lives, and provide appropriate services for victims and for their pets."

Find out more about studying at the University of Sydney here.  If you are interested in studying Veterinary Science you can find out more about the subject area here, or contact one of the Study Options advisors for information about course options.

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