Alesha Dixon backs initiative to train vets to help victims of domestic abuse
Britain’s Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon is backing a pioneering project to train vets to help victims of domestic abuse [26 April 2012].
The Domestic Abuse Veterinary Initiative (DAVI) has been developed by Scottish charity Medics Against Violence (MAV) together with Crimestoppers, the Links Group, OneKind, the Pet Fostering Service for Scotland and the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU). It will see vets trained to spot the signs of abuse in both animals and their owners and encourage victims to report to the police, support services or to give information about the abusers anonymously to Crimestoppers.
Domestic violence campaigner and OneKind supporter Alesha welcomed the new initiative, saying:
“The mistreatment of animals is something that should concern all of us. Individuals who hurt and neglect animals are often likely to hurt and neglect other people. Increasingly we hear about ever more terrible cases of abuse and neglect, and it is time not only for zero tolerance towards those who harm animals, but also for more initiatives to prevent this violence in the first place."
DAVI follows on from the success of MAV’s domestic abuse dental initiative, which has so far seen around 500 dentists trained across Scotland.
MAV founder Dr Christine Goodall said:
“Like doctors and dentists, vets often build strong relationships with clients over years of visits. This makes them ideally placed to spot signs of abuse not only in an animal but also in their owner. Yet on the whole, like dentists, vets are unprepared for this situation. The training we are offering helps them take advantage of a “golden moment” to intervene and help.”
Research and clinical evidence increasingly suggests links between the abuse of children, vulnerable adults and animals.
Dr Freda Scott-Park, Chairman of the Links Group and British Veterinary Association past-President, said:
“Over the years we’ve seen a growing number of cases where animals have been used as a way of manipulating and controlling victims of domestic abuse. The threat or actual abuse of a pet can often prevent women from leaving situations of domestic abuse. By training vets to be aware of the signs of animal and domestic abuse, we can hopefully support those who are suffering towards getting help.”
Her remarks were backed by Libby Anderson, policy director at animal charity, OneKind:
“Pets are part of many families and their welfare is closely linked with that of the people they share their lives with. Equally, we know they can be hurt or terrorised by the same abuser, and this is why the DAVI project, helping people and animals together, is so important.”
The initiative is supported by a poster, “Sharing a Secret?” which highlights the fact that animals and humans can be victims of the same abuser. The poster, which will be sent to veterinary surgeries across Scotland, encourages people to report anonymously to Crimestoppers.
Kate Jackson, national manager for Crimestoppers Scotland, said:
“Very often people who are victims of domestic abuse or who have knowledge of it don’t speak up about it because of fear. Crimestoppers is a completely independent charity and is not part of the police and guarantees anonymity to those who call. If you have information about this type of violence, please call us anonymously on 0800 555 111 or give information anonymously online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
"No one will know you have called and your information could put a stop to it.”
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