What? No Pets Allowed in Shelters?
I am not referring to animal shelters here. Rather, I am referring to women’s shelters. You see, I have learned about a dog who is staying in a safe haven while her pet parent transforms her life into one of hope and love again. Her human family is in turmoil right now. This dog is afraid of the abuser in the home and growls at him. The children are not aware of what has happened to their mother because the abuse happens when they are not at home.
Since her pet parent cannot find a women’s shelter that will allow her to take her loving companion with her, a family is providing foster care for this dog. If you would like your pet parent to help other pets in need, have them check out Ahimsahouse to learn more about providing a safe haven.
Why Do Victims of Abuse Stay in the Home?
Up to 48% of domestic violence victims will delay or refuse leaving an abusive home out of fear of leaving their pets or livestock behind according to Sheltering Animals & Families Together (SAF-T). This is the first and only national program to encourage domestic violence shelters to allow families to bring their pets with them.
It is no secret that domestic violence often starts with violence towards pets. More than 72 million homes in the U.S. in 2011 included companion animals. Women without children consider their animals as their children and are reluctant or totally unwilling to leave them behind. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 72% of homes have women as the primary caretaker of the pet. That’s true in my home. This dog that I know about does not like her male abuser but she does warm up to every other man that she meets.
There are approximately 2500 women’s shelters. In early 2009, there were only 8 women’s shelters known to take in pets also. Although the number has grown, less than 70 women’s shelters across 29 states are listed as being able to accommodate pets.
How Can We Make a Difference?
We have Allie Phillips to thank for fighting for our rights to remain with our pet parents. Besides founding Sheltering Animals and Families Together (SAF-T), Allie has worked on legislative issues and developed national initiatives on human-animal interactions.
This abused pet parent, who is still in her home with a protective order against her husband, has to be less stressed knowing that her companion is in a safe haven. The foster parents are trying to keep their guest very busy and very pampered so that she isn’t anxious while she is away from her pet parent. She tried to snap my face off at first…more than once… but I reassure her that I am her new friend. I share my food and treats with her too. As an only pet myself, I have not had to share before but I sense that she appreciates my generosity. However, not every pet has an option like my new friend.
What kind of accommodations do the pets have in women’s shelters?
We viewed outdoor kennels or indoor rooms filled with cages. This certainly in not what my new friend is used to. I can tell that she is a diva like myself and expects only the finest comforts of a human home.
Women’s shelters across the states house from 1-3 pets per month for up to 90 days.
Sick pets, elderly pets or those used to the constant companionship of their pet parents would have a tough time adapting to this type of environment. This is where Red Rover comes in with available grant money. Their slogan is Bringing Animals from Crisis to Care.
What are the primary concerns about pets in women’s shelters?
- Funds to pay for the pets
- Sustaining the pet program
- Dog bites
- Abandoned pets
- Legal issues
Allie Phillips has thought it all through from how to garner support, how to establish SAF-T, and the future of SAF-T.
Your pet parent can do more to help pets like my friend. The goal of SAF-T is to have one SAF-T shelter in each state by 2014 through education and awareness. If you know of a pet and their family that is being abused, and they don’t have a place to go together in your area, have your pet parents team up with Allie Phillips. They can learn more about her work at www.manifestedharmony.com.
Help us assist Allie in multiplying the number of women’s shelters that welcome pets.
What are your feelings about pets being allowed in women’s shelters? Share your feelings with us…
Living in the moment,
Pet Companion to Animal Lover Amelia Johnson