Whether you’re a victim of domestic abuse who needs to escape with a cat, or suspect that someone you know is a victim, you might feel paralyzed by the thought that there’s nowhere to turn. There is. And knowing what to do can make all the difference for victims of domestic abuse who are reluctant to leave because of fears for their pet’s safety.
For starters, the nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund suggests contacting your local sheriff or police by dialing 911 if you witness animal cruelty. You can also contact your local humane society, animal control officer or SPCA.
There are also a number of other resources available for those reluctant to leave an abusive situation due to their fear of leaving behind a pet behind or leave one in a shelter.
1. The Animal Welfare Institute actively pursues partnerships with other organizations to offer resources, programs and policies that address the important relationship between animal cruelty and family violence. You can visit them at: awionline.org/content/animals-family-violence
2. By entering your zip code on the Animal Welfare Institute’s Safe Havens Mapping Project, you can find entities near you that provide sheltering services for pets of domestic violence victims, have a relationship with an entity that does or provide referrals to such facilities. Visit: awionline.org/content/safe-havens-mapping-project-pets-domestic-violence-victims
3. RedRover offers financial assistance for victims of domestic violence and their pets through their Safe Escape grant program. The goal of the program is to help families with pets safely escape domestic violence together. Funding is mainly provided to help with the cost of temporary pet boarding while a client is in a domestic violence shelter, though other costs, like urgent veterinary care, can be considered. Visit them at: redrover.org/domestic-violence-safe-escape-grants
4. Sheltering Animals of Abuse Victims (SAAV) is an all-volunteer organization that recognizes the importance of animals as vital family members and arranging for their safe harbor at a time of critical need — when a domestic abuse victim seeks refuge from an abuser. Visit www.saavprogram.org/
5. “Because choosing safety shouldn’t mean leaving a family member behind,” Atlanta-based Ahimsa House offers a list of programs throughout the country for victims of domestic violence looking for help for themselves and their pets. Visit: ahimsahouse.org
6. Sheltering Animals & Families Together (SAF-T)™ is a global initiative guiding domestic violence shelters on how to house families together with their pets. The organization “recognizes the human-animal bond and that family pets can provide comfort, reassurance and healing to adult and child survivors.” Visit them at alliephillips.com/saf-tprogram/