April 6th, 2022
By Katie Campbell, Director of Collaboration and Outreach
Since its inception in 2012, RedRover’s Safe Housing grant program has focused on creating pet-friendly spaces at domestic violence (DV) organizations. These grants have grown and expanded, both in grant size and in availability for animal organizations or other off-site options – but creating pet-friendly DV shelters remains at the core of our DV assistance work.
In fact, increasing the number of pet-friendly domestic violence shelters is so important to us that in 2019 we joined forces with Purina to create the Purple Leash Project. Together, we are committed to ensuring that 25% of DV shelters in the U.S. are pet-friendly by 2025. Currently, only 15% of shelters in the U.S. are able to accommodate pets – so accomplishing this goal will require a multi-faceted approach. Our strategy includes raising awareness of our Safe Housing grants, providing in-depth support to organizations in creating pet housing programs, and establishing a community where organizations can share knowledge and support each other.
Our work in this space has taught us that it’s not enough to just provide grant funding; we need to walk the walk with organizations and communities. This means that our staff are continually reaching out to inform communities around the country about our grant funds and the support we can provide in creating pet housing programs. In 2019, we co-created the Don’t Forget the Pets (DFTP) collaborative project with Greater Good Charities’ Rescue Rebuild program to offer additional support to communities, including a coaching program and community forum.
Through the DFTP project, we’re able to assist communities in overcoming the barriers and challenges of creating pet housing programs by walking them through the process – covering everything from building collaborative partnerships to creating the physical spaces, outlining the program structure, and even fundraising. The DFTP project offers this support through training workshops (both virtual and in-person), in-depth one-on-one support in our Coaching program, and through the community forum.
The most unique part of our DFTP program and RedRover’s domestic violence work? We focus on bringing together everyone who interacts with – and supports – people and pets. This means we bring together representatives from human/social services (e.g. DV and homeless shelters, social workers), animal services (both municipal shelters and rescues), law enforcement, local judicial courts, veterinarians/veterinary staff, and politicians, among others.
Supporting the pets of people in crisis creates a unique opportunity for human services organizations to show compassion and empathy while building trust with pet parents. In addition, incorporating pets into their programming adds an additional tool for pet parents to find healing, safety, and success (however they determine success). For animal services organizations, this kind of programming means keeping people and their pets together – freeing up space and shelter programming to support adoptions or other community programs.
It takes a community. Not just the local communities who are creating and sustaining these programs, but it also takes you. Whether you’re raising awareness about pet housing programs to survivors (SafePlaceForPets.org) or sharing our Safe Housing grant information and resources with your local organizations, you’re starting important conversations and connecting people to support.
Together, we can do great things to support people and their pets in finding safety and healing.
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