That's why this past weekend, people and pets, hand in paw, walked to help victims of domestic violence -- not just humans, but their animals.
The annual Paws for Peace walk started with a reminder of innocence and hope. They released butterflies, honoring all the victims.
So many butterflies, they were tough to get out of the container.
According to Harbor House of Central Florida, sponsor of the Paws for Peace walk, in 2010 there was one domestic violence homicide every two weeks in Orange County, Florida. It's a huge problem in our area. Harbor House has a shelter for victims and their families. And soon they'll have a shelter for pets too.
The Paws for Peace shelter opens in December. It's meant so that families don't have to leave their pets behind. According to Harbor House:
- According to the American Animal Hospital Association, an estimated 88% of pets living in households with domestic violence are either abused or killed.
- Of all survivors who enter shelters to escape violence, 57% have had a pet killed by their abuser.
Not only did humans raise money for Harbor House and the shelter (I raised $140 thanks to you guys -- my loyal friends, family and readers), but puppies helped raise money too with a special photo contest. Lulu entered. People voted for the best looking dogs. I don't actually know if Lulu won anything, but people loved her.
Harbor House then raised even more money selling shirts, bandanas, and raffle tickets for awesome prizes. All told, more than $18,000 was raised for Harbor House. That will go a long way toward finishing the shelter and helping families.
But unfortunately, there's still more that needs to be done. If you're in the Orlando area, please consider helping Harbor House by going to their website.
Do you know what the domestic violence is near you? Do they have a way to help victims with pets? Look them up and find out how you can help them. Perhaps it's just a donation. Perhaps they need someone who can help take those pets in.
There are only 70 domestic violence shelters in the country that can make some provision for pets.
And if you need help finding a shelter near you, or you need help getting out of your situation, you can go to the National Domestic Violence Hotline website. There is also a phone number you can call: 1-800-799-SAFE(7233).