February 15th, 2023
By Katie Campbell, Director of Outreach and Collaboration
What do you get when you combine a community-focused animal rescue organization, a rockstar nonprofit construction program, and a team of dedicated and hardworking volunteers? A “pawesome” space for the pets of domestic violence (DV) survivors to relax (and be loved on!) while their pet parents heal and figure out their next steps.
A small but mighty group of our RedRover Responders volunteers recently joined forces with Greater Good Charities’ Rescue Rebuild program to create dedicated space at an animal rescue organization in Louisiana. The teams spent many sweat-filled hours installing walls, fencing, kennels, and outdoor dog runs. They were also busy prepping and painting shelves for the cat enrichment and assembling furniture for the “living room” space, a comfortable and welcoming spot for pet parents to hang out with their pets.
We know that many DV survivors will delay leaving an abuser if they don’t have a safe space for their pet. And we know that fleeing domestic violence is a common reason that people experience homelessness. With just over 17% of DV shelters offering on-site pet housing for survivors, animal shelters can play a key role in providing those safe spaces.
We’ve heard from so many animal shelters across the country that are creating “temporary care programs” to provide loving and safe spaces for pets whose families are experiencing crises such as DV, homelessness, eviction, hospitalization and/or treatment, and incarceration.
The human-animal bond is powerful and plays such an important role in a pet parent’s ability to survive and heal. Programs like these are a vital piece of the puzzle to helping people and pets in crisis find safety and healing together.
Bonus: Keeping pets with their pet parents opens up space on adoption floors!
And the space that we just helped complete in Louisiana welcomed its first residents – two cats! We’re sure they’re enjoying their new digs, and we know that this space will welcome many more footprints and pawprints for years to come.
Important note: “Pets” aren’t just cats or dogs! Organizations around the country are working to provide these kinds of safe spaces for all kinds of animals like chickens, ducks, goats, and horses.