October 12th, 2022
By Katie Campbell, Director of Collaboration and Outreach
I’ll be honest – when I joined RedRover in 2016, it was sometimes challenging to engage with domestic violence (DV) organizations around the conversation of becoming pet-friendly.* And coming from the human services world, I understand the hesitancy about bringing in another programming component (and a living, breathing one at that!) when the existing need for services is already overwhelming. So, yeah, I understood why it was a challenge to get someone to return an email or phone call.
Fast forward to this past August when members of our team presented and exhibited at multiple national conferences…and the enthusiasm around incorporating pets was palpable.
“What’s that in the air?” It was undeniable excitement for the opportunity to support both survivors and their pets on the road to healing! Really, I’m not exaggerating – I can’t tell you how many folks enthusiastically came to our table to chat about becoming pet-friendly. And, over three conferences, more than 400 people joined our presentations to learn about the benefits of incorporating pets into their programming, from keeping people and pets safe to the science of how pets support the healing process. Oh, and did I mention that pet-friendly programs can also increase staff morale, improve engagement, and raise funds? (Who doesn’t want to see a photo of a cute cat, dog, hamster, or other adorable creature?!) Triple bonus.
We’re excited about all this excitement (no joke), but we know we’ve still got some work to do. We’ll continue to support organizations on their journey to becoming pet-friendly through grants, training workshops, one-on-one assistance, or by simply being their cheerleader.
*“Pet-friendly” means that survivors live with their companion animals/pets (not designated service animals or emotional support animals) onsite at the DV shelter.