Gender violence & the role of animals during the COVID-19 lockdown

Dr Nuria Querol1,2,3, Dr Miguel Angel Soria1, Prof Alba Company1, Prof Ariadna Trespaderne1,2, Prof Alba Pedrola1, Prof Tatiana Vigo1

1Crime Behaviour Analysis Unit, University Of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
2 Comunidad de Inteligencia y Seguridad Global (CISEG), Barcelona, Spain
3Programa VioPet, Barcelona / Madrid, Spain

The Spanish Government declared a state of alarm in March 2020. We hypothesized that the COVID19 pandemic and confinement could increase certain crimes such as DV, cybercrime, child abuse, or animal abuse. According to different studies, 59% of IPV victims have pets and when they leave abusive relationships, they cannot take their animals with them since most shelters do not admit animals. This adds up to a large percentage of women who chose not to denounce their partner or leave their home with an abuser as they would be forced to leave their pet.

Our goal was to evaluate if the was a spike in the request for help in IPV violence and an increase in the demand for a foster home for their animals.

The Ministry of Equality launched a Contingency Plan against IPV in the face of the COVID19 crisis consisting of urgent measures to assist and protect victims considering it an essential service. Among the measures was carrying out an institutional campaign for the prevention of IPV violence including the implementation of the VioPet Program to address the needs of victims with animals.

The last data gathered (still in a state of alarm) shows that requests for assistance to victims of gender violence during confinement reach more than 18,700, 61.56% more than the previous year.

When it comes to VioPet Program, more than 500 women survivors of IPV have been helped and 157 animals of 130 women have been temporarily taken cared of. We currently have a network of more than 900 foster homes throughout the country.

A total of 1140 phone calls have been received, an average of 3 calls per day. Every other day (on average) we have fostered animals from a victim of IPV.

In other cases, we mediated with social services, being able to find a safe haven for their animals. A rise in police reports and murders was detected in months when restrictions measures were loosened.


Medical Doctor, Criminologist. Prof. Profiling & Crime Behaviour Analysis Group, Law School, Univ. Barcelona. National Sheriffs’ Assn’ DV and Crime Victim Services Member, USA. Certified expert of The American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress®. NSA’s Animal Cruelty Committee. Representative at Council of Medical Societies at the National Commission Against Domestic Violence, Government of Catalonia. Representative of the Council of Medical Societies at the WG on Sexual Violence & Stalking of the Nat’l Commission Against DV, Govt. of Catalonia. Member of WONCA (World Organization of Nat’l Colleges, Academic Assn’ of Family Physicians ) SIG on DV & Catastrophes & Emergencies.


Dec 10 2021