Calling all pet advocates: Help people and pets find safety together
Pets and people share an undeniable bond. Pets are part of the family and fill us with love, comfort and joy.
Unfortunately, in homes where domestic violence occurs, pets are often victims of abuse. Up to 89 percent of pet-owning domestic violence victims report their abuser has threatened to harm, injure or even take the life of their pet. Nearly half of domestic violence victims report staying with an abuser because they fear for the safety of their pet. For domestic violence victims with pets, options for safe shelter are limited. Nationwide, only an estimated 6-10% of domestic violence shelters provide resources for both people and pets.
What’s more, when people and pets enter domestic violence programs, as many as 95% of those pets need some form of veterinary care, from routine vaccinations and wellness checks to assistance with behavioral issues and treatment for injuries or neglect.
As a pet advocate, there are many ways you can help. Start by researching available resources in your community. Don’t hesitate to reach out to domestic violence and animal welfare organizations directly to determine what help they need and how you can help further their mission. It is important to remember that it is often most effective to support existing efforts rather than creating a new program. You might also consider the following:
- Get involved with a local domestic violence program or state coalition against domestic violence, volunteering as a pet foster, as a pet transport driver to take pets to and from veterinary appointments, and by helping organizations identify pet-friendly transitional housing opportunities.
- Volunteer your time with a local or national domestic violence hotline or 24-hour crisis hotline.
- Volunteer to help with special events or fundraising campaigns hosted by organizations.
- Donate to domestic violence programs that offer resources to pets, and encourage others to do the same.
- Help raise awareness of the need for people and pets to find safety together by sharing on social media, promoting information about the issue in your community, and within your own network.
In some cases, pet-owning victims of domestic violence may not be able to leave their current situation for a variety of reasons. If you have a loved one, friend, neighbor or coworker in a potentially dangerous situation and you don’t know how best to help, connect with experts at your local domestic violence shelter or state coalition against domestic violence, or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for advice on how to best advocate and support those in need.
Resources for pet advocates
Want to learn more about organizations offering services to people and pets and how to support them? Start here:
Additionally, consider reaching out and supporting local domestic violence and animal shelters that are already working with domestic violence victims and their pets.