February 3rd, 2024
By Savannah Verdon, Development and Engagement Coordinator II
Dawn* left the abuse with her three cats in tow, believing her heartache was finally over. For so long she had lived with an abusive partner who had a history of harming pets and specifically killing cats. Whereas some abusers would only threaten to do so, knowing the threat alone is enough to terrorize, she knew he was capable and willing to make good on his threats at any moment. Her three girls, kitties Winnie*, Puma*, and Treasure*, were unharmed, much to Dawn’s relief. Still, she could tell they were affected just as she was by never knowing what would happen next in their chaotic home.
So to leave that behind, it was no wonder that Dawn felt she could finally relax. Off she went with her girls to her sister’s home, where she could figure out their next steps in peace. As Puma and Winnie explored their new surroundings with feline verve, Treasure lounged around without a care in the world, and all three of them could enjoy a delicious meal without interruption. But it was not to last, as her sister’s landlord soon realized they were harboring three cats in violation of the lease agreement.
Dawn decided it was time to go to a domestic violence shelter for help. Her local shelter had just received a RedRover Relief Safe Housing grant to become pet friendly the month before, so they were not yet able to welcome Winnie, Puma, and Treasure alongside Dawn. Fortunately, they were familiar with the Safe Escape grant program and told Dawn not to despair. She may not be able to stay with her kitties, but on the other side of her initial healing in the shelter, a peaceful life with her three girls was waiting for her.
With Winnie, Puma, and Treasure all safely boarded, Dawn was prepared for a two-month stay in the shelter during which she would find a permanent home for them to share. That would come seven months later, after several unexpected setbacks in her healing. From the beginning, she felt the pull of separation anxiety in her heart, so much so that she couldn’t talk about her cats without becoming emotional. She realized she would need to seek therapy to overcome it. Then, one month into her stay, Dawn tearfully said goodbye to Treasure after she passed away. As a rescue cat, it was never clear how old she was or what she had experienced in life, and her passing left Dawn with more questions than answers to explore.
She and her advocate had already requested multiple extensions of her Safe Escape grant to accommodate the time she needed to heal when Dawn suddenly found herself hospitalized for emergency surgery. One last extension gave her enough time to recover, regain her strength, and get on a waiting list for permanent housing. It hadn’t been the next chapter she envisioned when she first fled the abuse, and it certainly wasn’t the same without Treasure, but Dawn, Winnie, and Puma were on their way to their new life together. She and her advocate were both incredibly grateful for the multiple extensions, without which this family would not be together today.
It’s hard sometimes to read these stories of abuse and loss, but they reflect the reality of domestic violence survivors everywhere whose pets mean just as much to them, if not more, than their own safety. In the end, they become stories of surviving and thriving because of compassionate members of the RedRover community like you, whose support makes an often literal lifesaving difference for pets and families in crisis. We are grateful for the lives saved through the RedRover Relief program, and we are grateful for your kind and open heart. Thank you for bringing Dawn, Winnie, and Puma from crisis to care!
*Names have been changed to protect privacy