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Sheltering Pets from Domestic Violence

More than 40% of domestic violence victims stay in abusive situations out of fear of what would happen if they left their pets behind. Not only that, but more than 70% of pet owners entering shelters to escape domestic violence report that the abuser has threatened, injured or killed family pets.Yet most shelters do not admit pets. Finding family or friends who will take in the victims of abuse AND their pets can be difficult.

Now, shelters are beginning to address this problem.domesticabusedog

Ahimsa House has been providing safe housing for pets belonging to those fleeing domestic abuse since 2004. They maintain a network of homes willing to offer safe, short-term housing for pets as their owners enter shelters to escape domestic abuse. Their website has a nationwide directory of safe havens for pets in domestic violence situations.

New York City’s first co-sheltering program was opened to enable domestic violence survivors and their pets to reside together. The project, called PALS—People and Animals Living Safely—is running as a six-month pilot that started June 1.

Although PALS only accepts cats and smaller animals such as hamsters, birds and fish into shelter now, the goal is to raise money to put the PALS program in three other domestic violence shelters and welcome dogs as well. 

Muriel Raggi, a domestic violence survivor who was in shelter four years ago, said she’s thankful to URI and the Alliance for recognizing how important pets are in people’s lives. “I remember lying in bed at night, with so many fears and worries swirling in my head, wishing I could have my dog Jasmine next to me to provide raw affection, comfort and support,” said Raggi. “ PALS will ensure that other survivors with pets won’t face the heartbreaking choices I did.”

Because pets are often used by abusers to maintain control over their victims, to torment them emotionally, or to get revenge, 25 states now offer court-ordered protection for pets. Such protection orders limit the contact an alleged abuser can have with the person seeking protection, ordering the abuser to stay away or allowing the victim safe access if they need to return to a home. In the case of an animal, it would allow victims to take a pet with them if they left home and prohibit the alleged abuser from harming the pet.

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Posted by on September 19, 2013 in In the News

 

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People Giving Up Pets Because They Can’t Afford Them

I’ve read several articles in the news about people giving up their pets because of the tight economy. More than 80 dogs have been dropped off at a single shelter in West Virginia. Other shelters have seen a sharp increase in people dropping off pets because they can no longer afford them. And, because of the economic scares, fewer people are adopting pets.

It’s hard to understand giving up a family pet because money’s tight. I’d have to be missing some meals before I could give up my fur-kids.  I know there are situations in which the pet truly cannot remain with its owners, and for them I am deeply sorry. Knowing that adult pets are far more difficult to find homes for – and many of them are put down at shelters – I hope that if there’s no money for pet food, there’s also no money for cell phones, cable television, clothes, bottled water, movies and sweets. If there’s money for that stuff, there’s money for your dog.

The decisions we make in the emotional moments after losing a job or filing for bankruptcy are sometimes life-and-death decisions for our pets, who have no say in the decision making process.

Let’s not toss them aside too quickly.

Before you drop your dog off at a shelter, please think about what it really costs to keep your dog. If you already have a leash, collar and crate, what does it really cost? For a healthy dog, it only costs food and heartworm/flea medication. There may be areas in which you can save money that are often overlooked. Do you mow your own lawn? Do you have bottled water delivery? Can you reduce your cable/satellite or Internet service package? How often do you go to Starbucks?

In other words, are the discretionary things you spend your money on worth your dog’s life?

Our dogs give so much, and they don’t ask for much in return. Let’s at least provide a safe home for them with the people they love.

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2012 in In the News

 

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