Protecting Fido, protecting the family: Developing domestic violence law to include companion animals




This article argues that by developing domestic violence laws to include and protect individual companion animals in the home, it might be possible to prevent violence against other victims in the home. Protecting a companion animal from persistent violence by, for example, having properly integrated reporting systems between government departments, could protect various vulnerable members of the family. The article briefly sketches the status of intimate partner violence in South Africa and explores the current implementation of the Domestic Violence Act. The status of companion animal abuse in South Africa and other jurisdictions is briefly explored. The article then shows that an intersection of violence exists in the home between women, children and companion animal and that protecting specific victims of violence (such as companion animals) can potentially act as a mechanism that can protect all victims from future or persisting violence. 


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Author Biography

Sheena Swemmer, Centre for Applied Legal Studies, Univeristy of the Witwatersrand

Sheena Swemmer is an admitted attorney and holds an LLD from the University of Johannesburg. She is the head of the Gender Justice at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) at the University of the Witwatersrand. She focuses on the intersection of gender and violence in South Africa. Her LLD focuses on the intersection of domestic violence and the abuse of companion animals. 






Research articles