domestic abuse is an ongoing universal issue affecting women everywhere. The violence takes many forms, whether it is verbal, physical, emotional or sexual. Domestic violence occurs in a personal setting with a spouse, partner or another person within an intimate relationship. A group in Spain works to help victims of such abuse through a speciality service guard dog.

Spain’s anti-domestic violence foundation

Security dogs in Spain is a non-profit organisation that works to help and protect victims of domestic abuse by providing them specially-trained guard dogs to safeguard them from abusers.

The organisation is headed by veteran dog handler Ángel Mariscal who believes in dog’s natural instinct to protect their owners. The program is still in its infancy, with currently 20 women using the individual service guard dogs for protection. Sixteen other women are on a waiting list.

Although the training of each dog is costly, it is provided free to the victims, being funded by Mr Mariscal’s private security firm. The Spanish government or any other local entities do not contribute funding for such a crucial assistance to battered women.

Training dogs as service guard dogs of domestic abuse

Each dog undergoes extensive training under the handling of Ángel Mariscal, but the lessons must continue after an animal is paired up with the women it is to protect. Both dog and woman must continue with up to 200 hours of training after being assessed and paired together. Additionally, the home of the woman must meet suitable standards for herself and the service guard dog. The pair is engaged in a 20-hour course involving the supervision of police as a method to match the right dog with the victim.

Mr Mariscal states that when trained, the dog is one that does not bite or kill. They are very sociable without aggressive tendencies. The service guard dog is there to protect the owner upon specific command but can cohabitate with children, behaving like a normal, happy pet. Placement of dogs is on a per case basis and the home situation with the abuser. Mexico is looking into such a program, and Mr Mariscal is hoping the program will be adopted in other areas across the country helping women of domestic abuse.

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