How Shelters Can Help Victims of Domestic Violence and Their Pets
It is not uncommon for a victim of domestic violence to remain in an abusive situation out of concern for a beloved pet. Many women or children will refuse to leave or flee to safety because they are worried or anxious for their pet.
Fortunately, organizations such as Anna Marie’s Alliance – providing a safe haven for survivors of domestic violence – have now opened a shelter for the pets of those families. This way, a person or family can get to safety, bringing their pet along with them and keeping everyone out of harm’s way.
1. Safety Precautions for You and Your Pet
No one ever wants something bad to happen to them or their pet. However, it is better to be prepared and ready when something does happen than to let it come as a surprise. Here are a few ways you can take precautions and get to safety sooner rather than later:
- Have a safety plan. It is always good to be prepared for anything. Make sure you have a plan of action if you need to leave your house or go to a shelter. Consider having:
- An emergency bag. Have a bag full of supplies or necessities one might need away from home. Also, have anything your pet might need in the bag (i.e. extra food, a leash or a collar). This will help you and your pet leave at a moment’s notice if you need to.
- Code words. Have a code word for your kids, neighbors or others to discretely communicate the need to leave or get help from the police.
- Contact list. Keep on hand a list of shelters that are nearby, or the phone number of an emergency vet. If you are in a situation where you need help, you can reference your list for a phone number or address.
- Keep your pet safe. Especially if your pet has been threatened, it is a good idea to know what actions to take in order to keep your pet safe.
- Remove the pet. If you think your pet is in danger, it never hurts to remove them from the situation. Research different shelters near you that might take them in for a certain amount of time, or call upon a friendly neighbor or relative to care for them until you find a more permanent situation.
- Keep them identified. Always leave a collar with ID tags on your pet – even carry an extra set of tags. That way, you will be able to identify your pet quickly and others can inform you if something happens that you need to know about.
2. Organizations That Can Help
If you find yourself in need of a place to go, or know of someone else in need, refer them to any of these organizations for help.
- Humane Society’s SAFE HAVEN program. Here you can find a directory of the Safe Havens available for pets. Do not hesitate to find one near you and use their services if you are leaving a domestic violence situation.
- URIPALS (Urban Resource Institute). URIPALS stands for Urban Resource Institute’s People and Animal Living Safety. This is a shelter that welcomes both families and their pets – together. Here are URI People and Animal Living Safety Awareness tips:
- Pet-care Plan. Like we mentioned above, URIPALS encourages you to have a relative or friend on standby who is willing to take in your pet and care for them when needed.
- Animal Ownership Documents. Keep on hand any registration records, vet records, a microchip and a current picture of your pet. All of these things will help prove your ownership.
- Legal Protection. Include pets on your orders of protection. Be sure to give a copy of legal documents to a trusted friend or family member.
- Safety Supplies. As mentioned above, pack an emergency bag and keep it hidden and on-hand.
- Red Rover. Red Rover is a program offering financial assistance for victims of domestic violence, along with their pets. One can apply for a grant in order to give temporary boarding and vet care. Read more about the program and process here. This program is a large provider of crisis intervention services for survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault in Sacramento County. They also provide a safe haven for pets with its Safe Pets Program.
- Pet Food Banks. Just like regular food banks, pet food banks offer free food for your pet.
Situations like these are never easy. But it is good to know what actions to take if you are in one. If you are dealing with domestic violence, or know someone who is, do not hesitate to follow our advice above. We want both you and your pet to be safe, happy and healthy.