April 20th, 2016
By RedRover President and CEO, Nicole Forsyth
Many domestic violence shelters do not have the means to house pets, which means that victims are left facing the difficult decision to either leave their pets behind or remain in an abusive environment. Sadly, many victims stay in abusive homes for fear of subjecting their animals to abuse if they leave. RedRover’s Domestic Violence Safe Housing grants provide funds to help domestic violence shelters become pet-friendly so that no member of the family is left behind.
The profound role pets play in domestic violence became a lot more real to me when I recently sat and listened to a domestic violence victim tell her story. She had repeatedly left and returned to her abuser, but then one day, after an altercation with her abuser, she saw her two small dogs shaking under her bed. She said, “Right then, I realized they were a reflection of how I felt. They were scared just like me, and I had to leave for their sake – and mine.” That’s when the woman found a domestic violence shelter in New York City to take her and her dogs. “If they didn’t come with me, I wouldn’t have had the strength to leave, and I wouldn’t have had the strength to not go back,” she told us.
In July of 2015, RedRover awarded a Safe Housing grant to the Urban Resource Institute (URI) in New York, New York. Our funding helped the URIPALS (URI People and Animals Living Safely) program provide safe, in-room housing for families and their pets. Because of their relationships with other organizations, such as the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals and Purina, URIPALS is also able to help with pet supplies, veterinary care and even an animal behaviorist.
While URIPALS offers an outstanding co-sheltering experience, co-sheltering can be just as amazing on a smaller scale. The Lake Family Resource Center in Kelseyville, California, received a Safe Housing grant from RedRover in 2013. With it they have built an outdoor kennel with room to house dogs from three families, and have an in-room kennel for cats or small dogs. Because they service a smaller community, the co-sheltering options that Lake Family Resource offers fit their needs perfectly.
You can help protect pets and people from domestic violence: RedRover.org/DonateDV