Thursday, April 14, 2011
PAWS Program Helps Protect Pets and Families
I was recently asked by my friend Vicki Boatright (aka Bztat) to contribute to her blog Okey's Promise, which addresses the connection between animal cruelty, child abuse, and domestic violence. And while I was familiar with this connection in theory, the issue was quickly brought home to me when a twitter friend asked for help finding temporary housing for two dogs who were being displaced due to a domestic violence situation.
Research indicates a strong connection linking animal abuse and domestic violence. Studies have also shown that upward to 48 percent of women refuse or delay leaving an abusive home out of fear of leaving their pets or livestock behind.
The Pets And Women's Shelters (PAWS) Program was born out of the need to provide safe housing for pets along with their families. The program, which began at the American Humane Society, is the first and only national initiative to address this need, providing a manual of guidelines to help family violence centers provide safe housing for pets.
When the program began in 2008, only four family violence shelters were known to provide on-site housing for pets. Currently, approximately 60 shelters provide on-site housing, and the program continues to grow. But with 2,500 domestic violence shelters across the country, more needs to be done to keep families with pets safe.
While no longer housed at the American Humane Society, the PAWS Program continues to work with several national domestic violence organizations. The program also collaborates with United Animal Nations, an organization that helps provide funding for victims of domestic violence and their pets through their Crisis Relief for Individuals grants program.
If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, please visit the Okey's Promise website for a listing of emergency resources available to families with pets.