A strong network of shelters exist across the U.S. to shelter women who are victims of domestic violence. But, unfortunately many women remain in an abusive relationship to protect their beloved pets. That’s because to seek safety in a shelter they have to leave their pets behind with an abuser, possibly subjecting the pets to abuse themselves.
Fortunately shelters are recognizing the need to provide shelter for the pets of domestic violence victims. In 2005 Staci Alonso fostered a cat so that a woman would seek safety at The Shade Tree Center, a shelter that did not admit pets. Two year’s later Alonso, after protecting animals in foster care so that their owners could stay in the shelter, founded Noah’s Animal House. Nine years later Noah’s saved over 1,200 pets from abusive conditions over 90,000 boarding nights.
For the second year in a row, one of the highlights of attending Global Pet Expo at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, is the annual Press Conference and Luncheon sponsored by Bayer Animal Health. This year Bayer announced that they are donating $20,000 to Noah’s Animal House as part of their commitment to promoting the health and well-being of people and pets. Noah’s Animal House, is a non-profit that offers a full service pet boarding facility on the grounds of the largest women and children’s shelter in Nevada, The Shade Tree Shelter.
How Domestic Violence Against Women Affects Pets
- Each year, nearly 1 million animals suffer abuse or are killed in connection with domestic violence.
- Abusers of animals are five times more likely to harm humans.
- 13% of animal abuse involves domestic violence.
- Almost half of abused women say they are unable to escape abusive living situations because they worry about what will happen to their pets (according to rosebrooks.org).
As a guest of Bayer, we heard Trish Steffen tell her story of how she left an abusive relationship after losing all her money, possessions, everything. Except her beloved dogs and cat. Having to chose between abuse, leaving her pets behind, or living in her car in the hot Nevada heat, she left with just her pets and car. Unable to look for a job and leave the pets in her car, she needed help and ended up at Shade Tree, who took her and her pets in. Years later this woman lives in another state, working and supporting herself and her new dog. Just one of many women and pets that Noah’s saved.
With the help from Bayer, Noah’s is opening a second location this year in Reno, NV. Bayer also provided $20,000 grants to two other shelters acknowledging that pets are a part of the family that cannot be left behind:
- Rose Brooks, located in Kansas City, MO, became the first domestic violence shelter in the region to welcome pets with Paws Place, a pet shelter located on the facility.
- Urban Resource Institute People and Animals Living Safely program launched on-site at URI’s Urban Women’s Safe Haven and Retreat Shelters. It’s the first co-shelter program in New York City.
PAWS Act Needed to Protect Women and Their Pets from Domestic Violence
Reintroduced in February 2017 by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Dean Heller (R-NV), the Pet and Women Safety Act, or PAWS Act, is a bicameral, bipartisan legislation. Its aim is to protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence from emotional and psychological trauma caused by violence against their pets.
The PAWS Act meets a significant need for women across the U.S. who seek safety for themselves their children and pets from violent relationships.
To help, Bayer launched PAWS: Share the Story, a campaign to raise awareness about the PAWS Act. To get involved:
- Visit PetAndWomenSafety.com to send an electronic letter to your local congressman/woman and/or state senator.
- Share the educational video at PetAndWomenSafety.com through your social media channels to help raise awareness of the issue.
With your support, and from corporate partners such as Bayer Animal Health, we can end the cycle of abuse that women and their pets suffer.