By Anni Lampert, Program Coordinator, Leadership Door County
Imagine you are in a relationship where verbal attacks on your looks, your intelligence, your choice of career or friends, your family – anything near to your heart – go from happening once in a great while to much more often.
“Oh, I can handle his nonsense. I’m strong,” you tell yourself. “He’s had a tough couple of months. He’ll snap out of it soon.” But the nasty comments and insults continue and take their toll, even if you are not totally aware of their harm. Maybe you begin to question your looks, your intelligence, your choices, yourself.
Then one day your dog becomes the target of his ugliness. The one creature whose love for you is absolute and pure; the one who is always delighted to see you, the one consistent happy thing in your life.
Maybe the ugliness manifests itself as severe punishment for a minor mistake. You witness a gut-wrenching kick or a door intentionally slammed on your pet, maybe food or water is withheld or he is banished to a chain outside for long periods.
A line has been crossed and you’re not sure what to do. The questions begin. Should I get out? Where would I go? What about my stuff? What’ll I tell my friends, my family, my co-workers? What do I do with my dog?
HELP of Door County is a source of immediate help and advocacy for you. Call 920.743.8818 any time day or night.
After you have had a chance to talk with a HELP staff member and become aware of some ways of moving in a positive way toward a better future for yourself, you will have a way to shape your thinking about how to proceed.
A new tool has been added to legally address the very real concern of pet abuse. Wisconsin Senate Bill 97 adds wording to all four types of injunctions that will allow the court to order the respondent (the person named in charges filed) to not engage in or to stop pet abuse and/or to allow a person to retrieve a pet. SB97 was signed into law March 1, 2016.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence collects data on many aspects of domestic violence. They report that 85 percent of shelter women speak of animal abuse incidents; 52 percent leave their pet with their batterer and 40 percent stay because they fear for their pet.
For your dog, the Door County Humane Society (DCHS) can be a welcome ally as well.
“We will gladly work with pet owners to find a solution,” says DCHS Executive Director Carol Boudreau. “We’ve all been in situations that forced us to make difficult decisions,” she continues. The mission of the DCHS is to help animals find forever homes, so the more information you can provide about your dog’s likes and dislikes, his medical history and such, the better.
This article is brought to you in part by the Door County Coordinated Community Response (CCR) to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Teams and the Door County Elder and Adult-at-Risk Interdisciplinary Team.