New Study to Investigate Impact of Pet Ownership in Relationships with Intimate Partner Violence

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Human Animal Bond Research Institute Awards Research Grant to UTHealth Houston

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“Quantifying the link between intimate partner violence and animal cruelty will help identify ways to protect people and pets and lower the barriers to seeking help.”

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today a new research grant to The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston) School of Public Health to investigate how pet ownership and cruelty to animals impact the decisions and mental health outcomes of survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV).

“Pet abuse has been identified as a predictor of IPV, but there is a lack of data to fully understand the role of pet ownership in relationships where IPV is occurring,” said Alaina Beauchamp, MPH, Principal Investigator. “Quantifying the link between intimate partner violence and animal cruelty will help identify ways to protect people and pets and lower the barriers to seeking help.”

One in 4 women and 1 in 9 men reported IPV in 2019 alone. 41 percent of men arrested for IPV reported committing acts of animal cruelty, compared to a nationally representative sample of adult men who reported a 2 percent incidence of animal cruelty. Up to 48 percent of domestic violence victims remain in abusive situations out of fear for their pet’s safety, and only 15 percent of U.S. domestic violence shelters are pet friendly.

This new research study led by Alaina Beauchamp, a doctoral student, and Katelyn Jetelina, PhD, assistant professor at UTHealth School of Public Health, will collect data from women residing in emergency and transitional housing at a domestic violence shelter in the southern United States to examine their experiences of animal cruelty and the barriers it created when seeking help. Data will be used to capture the burden of animal cruelty in this population, assess the role emotional manipulation by an abuser plays in choices made for an IPV survivor and their pet, and evaluate the impact of the human-animal bond on the resiliency and mental health of these IPV survivors.

“HABRI is proud to be funding this important research, which will bring data to a critical issue facing survivors of IPV and their pets,” said Steven Feldman, President, HABRI. “HABRI is committed to supporting efforts that help pets and people stay healthy and safe together.”

About University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Established in 1972 by The University of Texas System Board of Regents, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston) is Houston’s Health University and Texas’ resource for health care education, innovation, scientific discovery and excellence in patient care. The most comprehensive academic health center in the UT System and the U.S. Gulf Coast region, UTHealth Houston is home to Jane and Robert Cizik School of Nursing, John P. and Kathrine G. McGovern Medical School, and schools of biomedical informatics, biomedical sciences, dentistry, and public health. UTHealth Houston includes the UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Center, as well as the growing clinical practices UT Physicians, UTHealth Neurosciences, UT Dentists, and UT Health Services. The university’s primary teaching hospitals are Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, and Harris Health Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. For more information, visit http://www.uth.edu.

About HABRI
HABRI is a not-for-profit organization that maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information; funds innovative research projects to scientifically document the health benefits of companion animals; and informs the public about human-animal bond research and the beneficial role of companion animals in society. For more information, please visit http://www.habri.org.

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