Pets in Domestic Violence Shelters
Back in October was invited to attend the 2nd Annual Purina Better with Pets Summit in New York City. Like all trips to NYC for me it was a whirlwind experience. I flew in early morning on Monday and got to work in our NYC office. I attend a few meetings and then run to the Better with Pets Cocktail Hour where I got to hang out with Blogging friends. It was a late night (we went out to dinner after the event) and an early wake up in order to get to the event Tuesday. Without question year 2 was even more incredible than the first.
The speakers were for the most part absolutely inspiring and had a message that anyone that loves pets needs to hear. From artists to rocket scientists to teenage entrepreneurs Better with Pets covered it all. But the session that I want to share with you today was about Domestic Violence. It is a message shared because I know that even though it is the Holidays Domestic Violence does not stop in fact it can get worse. I also know that there are many women out there – not just the one that came to share her story with us or a few here and there. It is something that unfortunately touches a lot of people you know if not you directly.
Did you know that up to 70% of women in a domestic violence situation also own a pet who was threatened or abused as well? While we see many ways to fight against domestic abuse of women in society today, the concept of pets and domestic violence has yet to be fully considered. Not only are women being abused in these situations, their pets are being used and threatened as well.
Domestic violence and abuse is something that breaks the hearts of anyone who has witnessed it. Women stay with abusive partners every day because they feel there is no place to go, or they feel that if they leave, the result will be worse than the abuse they are currently living in. Those same women may have only one source of comfort in their lives. The pet that loves them unconditionally.
An abuser often won’t stop at simply abusing the woman to exhibit his control over her. They may also threaten that source of comfort – their pet. Cats and dogs are both fiercely protective of their owners. While they may not be able to lash out and defend against abuse, they do their best to comfort their owners. Sadly, there are cases where a pet is used against the abuse victim. Not only are threats made against their physical body, their abuser may chose to abuse their pet as well. This can create yet another reason a victim feels she has to stay with her abuser.
Sadly, many domestic abuse victims are able to escape their abuser, but doing so means they must leave their pets behind. Most shelters and women’s centers do not offer a chance to bring a pet with them. This can be even more traumatic for an already difficult situation. Purina has taken a stand to see shelters for women also become shelters for humans and their pets. Reuniting an abuse victim with their pet can mean a world of difference in their ability to overcome their abuse. As you choose to fight against domestic abuse, look for opportunities to join Purina in the fight to keep abuse victims and their pets together. The healing process is often easier when the victim has someone beside them that loves them unconditionally. A treasured pet is a huge part of that healing process.
Earlier this year we shared the story about the First Dog Park In a Domestic Violence Shelter. I never thought that I would get to learn more about the project, meet one of its graduates,and learn about how ti all began. That Dog Park is located at one of the The Urban Resource Institute of NYC housing facilities. And while we didn’t get to visit the shelter we did get to see pictures of the dog park that was created there with the help of Purina. URI is proud to have teamed up with Purina in support of URIPALS (URI People and Animals Living Safely). United by the belief that people and pets are better together, URI and Purina hope to raise awareness about the impact of abuse on the entire family—including pets—and reduce barriers to escape and recovery.