Sovereign Health Group Blog

Domestic violence treatment programs: Domestic violence shelters for pet owners

Posted on 10-21-2015 Posted in Therapy, Treatment, Uncategorized - 0 Comments


As Immanuel Kant once said, “He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”

Pets have such a therapeutic effect on people that they are now commonly used to comfort people in nursing homes, hospitals and airports. The presence of a friendly, tail-wagging dog brings a smile to almost everyone’s face. Pets offer silent, loyal companionship and bring much joy to the people whose lives they share. Even those without pets of their own enjoy the ubiquitous YouTube cat videos that bring so much laughter.

According to Pets and Women’s Shelters (PAWS), in a study of animal abuse cases, 13 percent of these instances were linked to episodes of domestic violence. When a victim of domestic violence who is also a pet owner is considering leaving the home, they are faced with not only separating from a beloved pet but also finding them a safe place to stay.

The 2004 National Directory of Domestic Violence Programs lists more than 700 shelters in the U.S. that help with assistance and placement of pets, however, only four shelters actually accommodate pets. In recognition of the need to protect victims of domestic violence and allow companion animals to stay with them in shelters, American Humane is leading a national campaign to encourage shelters to allow women to bring their pets with them.

PAWS cites the depth of the bond between people and their pets that provides love and comfort to victims and their children; a shelter also provides a safe place for the pet. Christine Erickson reported in November, 2014 that only 2 percent of U.S. domestic violence shelters have programs incorporating family pets.

The Urban Resource Institute (URI) inaugurated a program in May, 2013, with 10 apartments housing families with small animals; the program has now grown to 15 apartments out of a total of 32 that now also accept dogs. According to Erickson, 48 percent of women in the U.S. remain in abusive relationships because there is no safe place for the family pet.

Rita Garza, URIs senior vice president of marketing, communications and development said, “We recognize the value of the pet as a true member of the family. In addition to everything else that a domestic violence victim is experiencing just coming into a shelter, to ask them not be able to leave their pet is, for us, unacceptable.” The ASPCA reports that a study from 11 U.S. Cities found that pet abuse is one of four indicators that determine who may become a perpetrator of domestic violence.

Sovereign Health Florida treats addictions, mental health disorders and behavioral problems. We also have a treatment center for women only which specializes in trauma treatment. If you would like more information, please call to speak with a member of our team.

Written by Veronica McNamara, Sovereign Health Group writer

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