By Katie Campbell, RedRover Outreach Manager

What would you do if you had to choose between your own safety and the safety of your beloved pet?

In domestic abuse situations, this is an all-too-common reality. In fact, as many as 71% of domestic violence survivors entering a shelter report that their pet was injured, maimed, killed or threatened by their abuser in the last year.  Only about 10% of domestic violence shelters offer pet-friendly housing programs, and roughly 48% of survivors have delayed leaving out of concern for their pet – and we suspect this number could be higher.  This clearly represents a barrier to safety for survivors and their pets.

RedRover recently joined forces with GreaterGood.org’s Rescue Rebuild program and the Rose Brooks Center in Kansas City, MO, to offer a unique day of training focused on creating more safe spaces for domestic violence survivors and their pets.  There were more than 50 attendees from across the state and Kansas who joined us! The attendees were largely made up of folks who work at domestic violence and homeless shelters, plus animal organizations. They eagerly shared their experiences, asked questions, and expressed their passion for making pet-friendly housing a reality in their communities.

So, what did we talk about?

  • Bryn Donnelly from GreaterGood.org’s Rescue Rebuild program shared her expertise on the human-animal bond and best practices for renovating/building pet-friendly spaces at both domestic violence shelters and homeless shelters.  
  • Zoe Agnew-Svoboda from the Rose Brooks Center discussed the link between human abuse and pet abuse and offered her best practices for operating a pet-friendly program (the “nuts and bolts” of running a pet shelter onsite).
  • I shared insights on how to fundraise to start and sustain a pet-friendly program (including how to apply for a RedRover Safe Housing grant). I also talked about the importance of working with the  community – including partnering with a local animal organization and a veterinarian, a local pet supply store and service organizations.  They all have a vital role to play in developing a successful pet-friendly program.

For me, the best part of this training day is that we were able to begin the conversation about this urgent issue. We offered attendees the chance to share and ask questions (and laugh a time or two!) and, most importantly, the opportunity to build community.  

Do you want  to learn more about this training or are you interested in bringing it to your community?  Email me at kcampbell@redrover.org and keep an eye out on our social media channels to learn about future events!