Dogs and cats are often targeted in domestic violence cases. Victims are afraid to leave the home without their beloved pet, because they fear the animal will be killed.
Domestic violence victims now have a safe place to go with their pets in South Florida. The new building will be the third shelter in the state that offers pets a safe place to go to get out of a violent home. The Women In Distress Pet Shelter was designed with help from Humane Society of Broward County. They partnered to make sure that the new building would be a safe haven for pets, while women receive help from Women In Distress.
Mary Riedel, President and CEO of Women in Distress tells CBS Miami, “Pets are part of the family and are often the only source of unconditional love. Think about someone who’s in an abusive situation. That pet might be the only source of consolation for themselves and their children so they’re part of the family.”
The new shelter can house 20 pets to live in kennels and enjoy a happy environment. The shelter will open to the public next month and expects to be filled quickly. “Gray paw prints on a freshly painted white sidewalk lead to a brightly colored obstacle course and a mesh bag of fresh tennis balls,” reports Sun Sentinel. Only 3 percent of domestic shelters are able to take pets, but hopefully this will change.
Everyday women are having to choose between leaving an abuser and the safety of their pets. Many will stay in the abusive relationship because they are not able to take their pet to the shelter with them. The highly needed shelter was made possible by generous donors like Bank of America, giving a $200,000 grant. The exact location is not disclosed for the safety of the victims.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that, “71 percent of pet-owning women entering women’s shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims.”