And we pray that today's post gets the word out so that there is, indeed, change on this issue, worldwide.
Early in 2012, a local story made national news: it was about a Great Dane named J Matthew. When J Matthew saw his mom beaten with a hammer, he thrust himself between her and the abusive man.
As a result, they were both nearly killed. J Matthew’s human is certain that without his brave intervention, she would have surely died.
J Matthew’s owner beat the odds – she left the abusive relationship. One of the reasons she was able to do so was due to a new policy at the Rose Brooks Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
Many battered women refuse to leave abusive situations because domestic violence shelters will not make room for their beloved pets.
In fact, according to nationally renowned animal and family advocate attorney Allie Phillips, almost half of domestic violence victims delayed or refused to leave the abusive situation out of fear they would have to leave their animals behind. This makes perfect sense when one considers that a pet is a source of comfort and unconditional love during a time of great distress.
As we well know, our pets are family members. To leave without them under any circumstances is unthinkable. In this, a situation where a pet may be a touch-point of sanity in a world gone crazy-wrong? You can see why a victim might even choose homelessness over seeking assistance if that shelter won’t take their beloved friend in, too.
hosts a list, searchable by zip code, of shelters in the U.S. that are considered Safe Havens.
A Safe Haven, by their definition, is “a domestic violence shelter that either provides sheltering services for the animals of domestic violence victims, has a relationship with an entity that does, or provides referrals to such facilities.”
Sadly, most of these do not have on-site facilities to care for a victim’s pets.
When they do, it’s big news. Just a few months ago the Urban Resource Institute launched New York City’s first ever co-sheltering program to enable domestic violence survivors and their pets to reside together in shelter. The project is currently in a six-month test.
If your area does not have a system in place, there is a resource available to help. And this is the focus of today’s Blog the Change:
Allie Phillips has created the first and only global initiative that provides resources to shelters to help them get to the place where they, too, can offer what Rose Brooks and the Urban Resource Institute now provide: housing for families and their pets.
The program is called SAF-T, Sheltering Animals and Families Together, and they offer a free start-up manual for any organization interested in providing this service to families fleeing abuse.
Please join us in spreading the word. We hope in the near future to be able to report that many other places have followed the ground-breaking work of these fine people and organizations.
Kudos to Allie Phillips, and to Rose Brooks (and Wayside Waifs, the no-kill shelter that worked with Rose Brooks for over a year to help make their pets program a reality). And we’re crossing our paws that the six-month trial in NYC becomes permanent.
Ohio Domestic Violence Network
Animal Abuse/Domestic Violence Fact Sheet
Urban Resource Institute
The Rose Brooks Center
Great Dane photo courtesy Marcia O’Connor via Creative Commons 3.0 license