Asking Children about their Relationship with Animals

Guidelines for Human Service Personnel:?Pets, Domestic Violence, and Children?Mary Lou Randour, Ph.D.?Animal Welfare Institute

Many domestic violence victims have pets and those pets often suffer harm, and sometimes death, at the hands of the perpetrator. When speaking with children, it is advisable to ask them questions about their experience with pets and other animals. By asking about animals in the home, family violence can be identified earlier, making intervention more likely to succeed, and safeguarding the safety of children, pets, and their families.

Asking Children about their Relationship with Animals:

  • Have you or your family ever had any pets? What happened to them?
  • Do you have a pet or pets now?
  • Have you ever lost a pet you really cared about? What happened?
  • Has your pet ever been hurt?
  • Have you ever felt afraid for your pet or worried about bad things happening to your pet?
  • Has anybody ever tried to make you do something you didn’t want to do by threatening to hurt your pet? What happened?
  • Have you ever seen someone hurt an animal or pet?  Tell me what happened.
  • Have you ever hurt an animal or pet? Tell me what happened.
  • Have you ever been frightened or hurt by an animal or pet? Describe what happened.
  • What happens when your family pet misbehaves?
  • Have you ever been punished for something your pet did, like getting into the trash?
  • Or has your pet ever been punished for something you did, like not doing the dishes when you were told to?



*Source: “Animal-Related Experiences” Inventory by Barbara Boat, Ph.D. and AniCare Child: An Approach for the Assessment and Treatment of Childhood Animal Abuse, by Mary Lou Randour, Ph.D., Susan Krinsk, LMHC, and Joanne Wolf, M.A.