A domestic crisis center in Trøndelag that takes in victims of family violence has begun allowing them to bring along household pets. Otherwise, they fear, the people needing shelter won’t accept it, or their animals can become victims as well.
“It’s not easy for people to leave their pets behind,” Liss Gjertsen of the crisis center in Orkdal told state broadcaster NRK. She has seen cases of battered women and children who won’t leave home because they fear for the safety of their pets.
“Children, especially, cry and want to go home because they’re afraid their father will kill their cat if they don’t,” Gjertsen said. She’s also heard men threaten to hurt family pets unless their wives and children return.
“We advise those needing shelter to find someone to take care of their pets, but it’s not always easy,” she said. That’s why the Orkdal crisis center now has accommodation for both dogs, cats, and some other small pets, to remove any hindrances for the threatened human family members.
Tove Smaadahl, leader of the crisis center secretariat in Norway, confirmed that “almost all the crisis centers have had experience with pets being tortured or killed.” In one case, she said, a woman and her two children were traumatized after being forced to watch her husband cut off the head of the family’s parakeet. Most crisis centers have rules against pets, she said, “but sometimes we need to break those rules.”