Domestic violence is devastating enough on its own, but it can be even more distressing when it involves a pet or beloved animal. Many abusers can threaten or hurt a pet as part of an attempt to control their partner — in fact, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 71% of pet owners who enter into shelters report that their abuser had threatened, injured, or killed a family pet. That's where Rescue Rebuild and RedRover are stepping in. The organizations are partnering to make space for domestic shelters to accommodate pets, starting with renovating the Emergency Support Shelter (ESS) in Longview, Washington, before expanding to other shelters across the country. The initiative is being put forth in hopes that this will make domestic-violence survivors' lives a little easier. After all, according to the National Coalition, 52% of those who leave an abusive partner end up having to leave their pet behind, too. “Making the decision to leave an abusive situation is incredibly difficult,” Sherrie Tinoco, executive director of ESS, said in a press release. “By giving victims the opportunity to bring their pets with them when they do so, it eliminates just one of the many barriers they are facing.” The ESS facility is transforming into a safe haven for pets by installing outdoor kennels and dog doors and renovating three of their family rooms to accommodate animals. Of course, with more than 10 million people per year experiencing domestic violence in the U.S., we still have a long way to go when it comes to helping those who may be in abusive relationships. Still, it's tragic that pets can sometimes be caught in the crosshairs, and making room for them in shelters could make it easier for survivors to leave their abusers if they're worried about having to leave a pet behind. You can donate to the program online here.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224 for confidential support.