New Article Discusses Issue with Companion Animals in Intimate Partner Violence Shelters

Sarah May Lindsay, “The “Problem” of Multispecies Families: Speciesism in Emergency Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Shelters” (2022) 11:6 Social Sciences 242. Download article here.

Abstract: When a woman seeks emergency shelter from an abusive relationship, she may bring her children but rarely companion animals. Through a Critical Animal Studies (CAS) lens, this article qualitatively analyzes in-depth interviews with shelter workers in Ontario, Canada, exploring the place of multispecies families in intimate partner violence (IPV) shelters. The findings indicate that companion animals are viewed as problematic, as obstacles to their clients’ safe relocation, falling outside the scope of IPV shelters (who rarely take a co-sheltering approach), and as potential strains on an already resource-stretched social institution. Addressing a gap in the literature about the effects of companion animal policies in social housing on clients and staff, the results are relevant to social service providers and policymakers working with multispecies families, including insights about women and children’s reactions to separation from companion animals, contradictions in related policies, and institutional priorities. The article concludes that multispecies families are poorly accounted for in the IPV shelter system and suggests that researchers and shelters should collaborate with their communities to advocate for resources and policies that accommodate families with companion animals