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Protecting Your Pet From Domestic Violence Could Help You Protect Yourself

Protecting Your Pet From Domestic Violence Could Help You Protect Yourself

Guest post by Karen Gould

What would you do if someone threatened to kill your pet? For many of us, the emotional bond is so strong that the question can’t be answered rationally. What wouldn’t we do?

Sadly, this scenario isn’t a hypothetical. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 71% of women experiencing domestic violence reported that their abusers had threatened, harmed or even killed a family pet. In much the same way that children can be used as pawns, animals in volatile homes are often used as a way for the abuser to exert power and control.

The link between violence against humans and animals is overwhelming. Research indicates that 48% of domestic violence survivors stay with their abusers because they fear what will happen to their pets. Unfortunately, in a home where abuse occurs, it is likely that pets will be part of the cycle of cruelty.

An organization called Middle Way PAWSS (Providing Animals and Women with Safe Shelter) has turned to a novel platform – crowdfunding – to see if hundreds of animal lovers working together can solve a problem that has seemed intractable.

If enough ordinary people can be found to support their campaign, PAWSS will provide a safe place for the pets of individuals seeking assistance from shelter Middle Way House. Pets admitted into the program will receive routine veterinary care and be placed with a trained PAWSS “Foster Parent.” Volunteers will be brought on board to provide pets the love and security they need during their stay.

It’s a model that has potential to radically change the way organizations support victims of domestic violence, and to hugely boost their success rates.

To get it off the ground, visit the crowdfunding campaign at StartSomeGood and make a donation of any size, then share the campaign with your social networks.

“As a former employee at a domestic violence shelter I can tell you how necessary this is,” said one supporter on StartSomeGood. “I have seen victims try to sleep in their cars with their animals. I have known an abuser to follow through with his promise to shoot the family pet if they did not return home – they did not return and he shot the animal. This is a serious situation because adults, children and animals are at risk.”

There’s nothing new about cruelty. However, we as communities are also equipped with enough compassion to overcome the actions of a dysfunctional few. Here’s hoping the new technology of crowdfunding can illuminate the problems as well as the solutions, and bring about a kinder, fairer future for abuse victims and their pets.

Do you have your own story of helping an animal in need? Sign this petition and share your animal adoption story here.

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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4:10PM PST on Jan 9, 2014

OMG! This is a real thing! Seriously, I just read this book, a memoir of life on an Indian reservation where the man threatened to kill the woman's parrot pets. The book has a lot of domestic violence undertones. People are freaking out all over my twitter slamming the woman for putting down Native Americans, but I think the book is more about domestic violence and a pattern of behavior seen in the main character. She says her story is true and people are fighting her.

I am impressed to see you say pets can be used as pawns, like her parrots were. Her name is Little White Bird and her book about Native Americans and domestic violence is called The Dark Horse Speaks. It's really getting rough replies from people who don't seem to get it.


2:35AM PST on Jan 3, 2014

Thank you!

4:41AM PDT on Aug 29, 2013

thanks for sharing

10:22AM PDT on Aug 22, 2013

What a fantastic idea! I know I could never leave an abusive spouse if I had to leave my dog behind.

8:24PM PDT on Aug 21, 2013


8:24PM PDT on Aug 21, 2013


6:14AM PDT on Aug 20, 2013


6:02AM PDT on Aug 19, 2013

its sad,

3:36PM PDT on Aug 18, 2013

There still needs to be stronger laws to protect pets and animals from violence. If an animal thinks it's territory is being threatened, he or she may defend.

4:18PM PDT on Aug 17, 2013

This PAWSS program is a remarkable thing, and so desperately needed. My ex was abusive mentally and emotionally, never physically although it was threatened daily. The shelters i was looking into said they couldn't take my cat, so that door was closed pretty quick. After about 9 months of hell, when i was working on my escape plan, he threatened to hurt my cat while i was at work, that;s when i completely lost it and beat the crap out of him, running on pure adrenaline and anger (which is also how i learned that abusive men tend to back off once their victims fight back). I was lucky enough to get my escape though, with no harm to my Boo

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