Protecting Pets Victimized By Domestic Violence
Peanuts is a Chihuahua that suffered from a severe disk disease in his spine. Paw Paw is a precocious tabby that was in terrible pain because of a urethral obstruction.
Both animals would have died if the women’s shelter their owners fled to, didn’t accept pets.
More shelters for domestic abuse are inviting in the cats and dogs of their clients as the connection between domestic violence and animal abuse becomes more well-known.
In a study about intentional animal abuse, 13 percent of the cases also reported domestic violence in the home.
The Shade Tree shelter for women and their children in Las Vegas, NV recognized the link and in 2007 opened an adjacent facility called Noah’s Animal House to protect the cats and dogs of their residents.
The shelter can house up to 13 dogs and 15 cats and the pets are welcome to stay until their owners get back on their feet. The facility has been at full capacity since it opened.
Noah’s Animal House is managed by Crystal McIntosh, who is a licensed veterinary technician. She examines the pets on their initial in-take and local veterinarians like Tiffany Paul, D.V.M. contribute medical attention as needed.
Many of the services are provided through grants such as the Banfield Charitable Trust that offers dental care for the animals.
Peanuts’ owner came to The Shade Tree with her two children after they became homeless and had nowhere else to turn. About one-third of the residents at the shelter are there because of economic reasons.
A grant from Build A Bear paid for Peanuts to see a veterinary neurologist who successfully performed surgery on the dog’s spine.
His owner knew her little dog would have died if she hadn’t found her way to The Shade Tree and Noah’s Animal House. She said, “Now I know why I am here.”
The American Humane Association said that victims of abuse are keenly aware of the risk to their pets when they flee from a violent relationship without them. Many chose to stay in an abusive situation when their community doesn’t offer a women’s shelter that also accepts pets.
To bring attention to the problem, AHA began the Pet’s and Women’s Shelters (PAWS) Program in 2008. At the time AHA was only aware of 4 women’s shelters that offered on-site housing for animals.
Paw Paw, the precocious kitty also received veterinary care for his obstruction. It was paid for by a grant from a local foundation called The Bennett Family Foundation.
He and his family still live at The Shade Tree where Paw Paw has become a little show off. He spends time with his family every day.
From the beginning of the program another group has worked behind the scenes at Noah’s Animal House. The Heaven Can Wait Animal Society (the rescue group this writer help to found) makes sure that every cat and dog is spayed/neutered and vaccinated free of charge.
For many of the animals, these are the only protective vaccinations they have received. HCWS teamed up with Noah’s Animal House to make sure all of the pets in the shelter remain healthy.
Today there are shelters across the U.S. and in several other countries. You can check out the complete list at Ahimsa House. And AHA offers a start-up guide for communities that want to launch a program.
With help from grants and other local organizations, every city can save the pets victimized by domestic violence.
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