SAN ANTONIO -

John Moreno, 51, was charged with assault and animal cruelty Tuesday, after police said an domestic abuse incident led to Moreno killing his girlfriend’s cat.

A police report said the pair was arguing about their different races, when Moreno struck the woman in the face, and then threw her cat off a sixth-floor balcony at the Enclave on Jackson Keller.

“I don’t think it’s a stretch when someone goes from hurting a person to an animal,” said Audra Houghton, an animal cruelty specialist with Animal Care Services.

She said research shows that when a pet’s owner is the victim in a domestic abuse situation, the pet is involved around 80 percent of the time.

“Either the aggressor abuses the animal or makes threats against the animal to control his or her victim’s actions,” said Hougton.

Those threats often intimidate victim’s into staying into abusive situations they would otherwise get out of.

But Houghton said victims do have options.

Many shelters, including the Haven for Hope and the Battered Women’s Shelter, have limited spaces available for victim’s who bring pets with them.

“The last thing we want is to have someone staying in a violent situation because they don’t think they have options,” said Houghton.

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