Stephen Sylvester, 18, was fatally beaten by his boyfriend, Bryan Canchola, 20, in July 2015. Canchola also strangled Sylvester's terrier, Harlow. The dog was found by a responding officer, hemorrhaging, but alive.
What are the steps to get protection for a pet in instances of domestic violence?
It depends on the state. The procedure would be the same as getting a regular order or protection - you would just include your pet in the document.
[In essence, violence against pets] is considered psychological abuse toward the person who loves the pet. And most of these new laws have come about in the last five or six years: Legislators were not made aware of the need until then.
Batterers often kill and abuse pets to orchestrate fear, violence and retribution in homes marked by domestic violence, according to a community toolkit created by the ASPCA and the National Link Coalition. How does this abuse actually play out in the home?
It might first start in [the form] of threats. Animal cruelty, like domestic violence, is about power and control. So, a lot of the animal cruelty we see in domestic violence situations can involve threats to harm an animal if an abuser doesn't get his way. Or [an abuser might] harm the animal to demonstrate the ability to cause harm. If a domestic violence victim has been choked, we can see [in some cases] that a cat was also choked to death. If the victim is being beaten, we [have seen] beatings of cats and dogs.