The Policing and Security Branch of the BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General has worked closely with police and key stakeholders to launch a new online training course for B.C. police, which will help officers identify risk in intimate partner violence investigations by including perpetrators’ behaviours towards animals.
“The link between animal abuse and domestic violence has been well documented,” says Louise Lathey of the BC SPCA’s prevention and enforcement department. “Our goal is to work closely with police, RCMP and other enforcement agencies, as well as social services, to ensure that we can provide the best support for individuals at risk.”
The latest collaboration includes contributing to the new online training course for B.C. police and the addition of animal abuse factors in a risk identification tool for officers responding to domestic violence calls. “The B.C. Summary of Intimate Partner Violence Risk Factors (SIPVR) is an aid used by officers to help conduct evidence-based risk-focused investigations when attending calls,” says Lathey. “We were very pleased to be able to work with the ministry to include factors involving the animal-human violence link in both the risk identification tool and the online training program to give officers as much information as possible to work with when identifying levels of danger in a home.”
Lathey says prevention and collaboration are key in the BC SPCA’s approach to protecting animals in the province. “It’s important for us to look at situations holistically and you can’t address animal issues without looking at the whole picture of how humans interact with animals,” she says. “It’s important that we partner with other agencies to provide support for vulnerable humans as well as vulnerable animals.”
In addition to collaborating with other enforcement agencies, the BC SPCA provides free emergency pet boarding for individuals fleeing unsafe home environments and is developing an expanded foster network to care for pets to ensure that those seeking to leave a violent relationship have a temporary safe haven for their animals.
“Responding to IPV is a shared responsibility across the province, public health, and social and community sectors, and it’s important that we work together to ensure survivors receive the care they deserve,” says Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “I want to thank the BC SPCA and our other partners who contributed their expertise to help refresh the course content. The result is police training that’s current, grounded in best practices and, most importantly, supports effective response to people in danger.”