Monday, April 18, 2016

7 facts about domestic violence and pets

April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.

Readers of Life With Beagle will know we take a special interest in one particular form of animal cruelty: domestic violence.

This coming Saturday, Harbor House of Central Florida, Orlando's domestic violence shelter, is hosting a walk to raise money for the Paws for Peace Kennel, a refuge for the pets of domestic abuse survivors.

Here are 7 reasons why this kennel is needed in Orlando -- and why more like it should exist all over America.

Every 15 seconds, a woman is battered by her partner in the United States. And while I don't have statistics on it, make no mistake that men can be victims of domestic abuse too.

These abuse survivors stay for many reasons -- maybe they don't think they will be safe. Maybe they feel they have nowhere to go. Maybe they are afraid they may have to leave their children behind.

Maybe they fear leaving their pets behind.

Fact 1:

There are good reasons survivors fear what will happen to their pets.

Fact 2:

Why attack the pets?

Mental health experts say showing aggression toward the pets is a way for abusers to control their victims. Abuse is always about power and control. People love their pets, and abusers know that.

This 2001 report offers more incite.

Fact 3:

In how many cases do we know the link? It's tough to say, because so many survivors suffer in silence.

But the cases are truly terrible to hear.

Here's one from March 21, 2016, in New Jersey.

And in this story from April 13, 2016, we learn about ASPCA's forensic sciences program, where doctors not only treat victims of animal abuse and neglect, but also build cases against abusers.
"The cases we see on a regular basis are domestic abuse cases where there’s both a human victim and an animal victim.”

Read more here:
Abuse is not the only problem a pet may face in a domestic abuse situation. In many cases, abusers will control the finances of the victim (because, again, it's about control). They can keep the victim from getting a pet to the vet if they need it, or getting properly groomed, or having good food to eat.

This is especially important, for a reason I'm sure anyone reading this blog understands --

Fact 4:
But what do you do when you can't take anymore and you need to get out, and you can't take your pet with you?

Fact 5:

Fact 6:

More shelters are starting to find ways to help domestic abuse survivors with pets. That may mean foster programs, or partnering with animal shelters. Some, however, are able to do much more.

Fact 7:
People who come to domestic abuse shelters, who are escaping an abuser, are traumatized. Why wouldn't a pet be as well? And to add to the trauma, to be separated from your beloved owner and taken to a strange place.

That's why the Paws for Peace Kennel opened in 2012 in Orange County, Florida at Harbor House of Central Florida. It's a place for healing, not only for pets, but for their family members who suffered at the hands of an abuser.

The annual Paws for Peace Walk is the primary fundraiser for the Paws for Peace Kennel, an on-site kennel that is more like a pet resort, with dog runs, a dog park, grooming facilities and even a cat porch. And people can visit their pets every day.

One-hundred percent of the proceeds for the walk go toward funding for the kennel. And local companies from all over Central Florida help the kennel.

Please consider help the kennel, if you live in Central Florida. Join us for the Paws for Peace Walk on Saturday, April 23 at 9 a.m. at Blue Jacket Park in Orlando. If you can't walk with us, you can donate here.

To find a similar shelter near you, head to the Animal Welfare Institute's website. They have a map where you can find a safe haven near you to support.

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