May 27th, 2015
Gina’s dog, Cooper, meant everything to her children. One of Gina’s kids had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and Cooper had bonded closely with the sick child over the years. But the entire family suffered under the hands of their abuser, and Cooper was a victim of domestic violence, too. Gina knew it was time to escape, but she wouldn’t leave without Cooper.
Gina had no friends or family nearby to turn to, and didn’t think any domestic violence shelter would allow them to bring Cooper. Gina did the only thing should could think of to keep her family safe. Gina, the two kids and Cooper lived in her car so they could escape abuse and keep Cooper with them.
You can imagine how hard living in the car must have been for them, but for this family it was a relief – better than the violence they experienced at home. They huddled together with Cooper on cold nights in the car until Gina was able to find help from a domestic violence shelter.
After one month, there was hope. Gina and her little family were accepted at the Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center in Tarentum, Pennsylvania. The HOPE Center was able to bring Cooper into their shelter, too, thanks in part to a RedRover Safe Housing grant that enables domestic violence shelters to build on-site housing for family pets. Cooper got to stay with his kids, and kept his sick buddy company during the difficult transition.
The advocates at the HOPE Center helped to find permanent housing for the family and Cooper. Cooper was a major part of their healing process and has been there the kids and Gina every step of the way.
Many victims of domestic violence will stay with their abuser because they refuse to leave their pets behind. Please help these victims become survivors by spreading the word about RedRover’s Safe Housing Program. Together, we can create a safe environment for all members of the family, including those with wagging tails.
*Names have been changed to protect identities