National Children's Advocacy Center

Webinar - Caught in the Crossfire: How the abuse of animals co-occurs with family violence

Child protection professionals encounter children and families with pets, and pets that are abused. Over 72 million American homes (63%) have a companion animal with 98% deeming them a part of the family. Children and adults love their companion animals, and we are finding that more children are growing up with pets rather than with two residing parents. However, when family violence is present, the pet may be victimized to gain silence and compliance of child and adult victims. This session will delve into the newest research and theories addressing how animals can be caught in the crossfire of family violence and how failing to address animal abuse can contribute to continued violence in the home. Understanding the importance of companion animals in American households lays the foundation to understanding how companion animals (including livestock and wildlife) can become targets of a batterer's abuse. Strategies for intervention will include: the psychological impact of animal abuse on children; addressing when maltreated children turn to abusing animals; successful multidisciplinary team responses including cross-training and cross-reporting abuse; talking with children about their experiences with animals; the inclusion of animal-assisted activities to help maltreated children who have witnessed animal abuse; and programs to assist families with companion animals who flee abusive homes and find safety. Investigation and prosecution strategies will be discussed on effectively handling cases that involve cross-over abuse, as well as treatment programs for children and adults who have harmed animals. (No photos of abused victims will be shown in this webinar.)

Presenter:  Allie Phillips, J.D.

Allie Phillips is a former prosecuting attorney who works for the National District Attorneys Association as the Director of the National Center for Prosecution of Animal Abuse and Deputy Director of the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse. Previously she was the Vice President of Public Policy and Vice President of Human-Animal Strategic Initiatives for American Humane Association. Since 1993, she has been working with child abuse and domestic violence survivors, with over 14 years of helping abused and abandoned animals.  She is nationally recognized for her work on the co-occurrence between violence to animals and people, and is the founder of Sheltering Animals & Families Together (SAF-T) ProgramT, the only global initiative working with domestic violence shelters to accept pets with fleeing families.  Ms. Phillips has conducted over 200 trainings nationally and has authored over 50 publications including two books: Defending the Defenseless: A Guide to Protecting and Advocating for Pets (2011) and How Shelter Pets are Brokered for Experimentation: Understanding Pound Seizure (2010). She volunteers her time with numerous nonprofit organizations and to help shelter animals. Learn more at and

Please note:  A one-time registration to create a user ID and password is required to access free NCAC online training.

Registration Instructions

Access Recorded Presentation (Course ID: NCAC-W-014)

Presentation Slides

The Link for Prosecutors by Allie Phillips, J.D.


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This project was supported by Grant No. 2011-CI-FX-K003 awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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