Back to Publication

Thematic Issue: Abuse of Power / General

Addressing the Impact of Animal Abuse: The Need for Legal Recognition of Abused Pets as Sentient Victims of Domestic Violence in Australia


Jane Kotzmann, Mirko Bagaric, Gabrielle Wolf and Morgan Stonebridge

Awareness of the incidence and impact of domestic violence has increased in recent decades, along with community and legal recognition of the interests of animals. However, streams of jurisprudence addressing these issues have only partially influenced one another. While in most Australian jurisdictions, animal cruelty can constitute domestic violence, abused companion animals have not been accorded the legal status of victims. This article proposes introducing laws that recognise such animals as sentient victims of domestic violence. This would enable courts to make orders protecting these animals, which would safeguard their welfare and ensure that people with whom they live who are also experiencing domestic violence can escape without worrying about the fate of their animals. Further, it would convey the seriousness of animal cruelty, and might increase support for and awareness of programs for re-homing abused animals, and training of people involved with animals to identify and report animal abuse.

Please access full article here or via PDF link to the left.

(2022) 45(1) UNSWLJ 184: