When Pets are Affected by Domestic Violence

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) shows that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the US have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) found from multiple sources a very common thread, that roughly half to three-quarters of abused women reported that their pets had been threatened, harmed, and/or killed by their partners. Other research has shown that as many as 48 percent of victims delay leaving a dangerous situation out of concern for their pet’s safety. Understanding these deep bonds, agencies and organizations around our state offer options so that survivors don’t have to make the crucial and emotional choice between their safety (and their children’s safety) and leaving behind a beloved pet. Not all shelters have the capabilities of housing pets however, even if a shelter cannot allow pets on-site, advocates are more than willing to help find alternate facilities until pet and owner can be rejoined.

The AWI recently conducted a state to state poll as to how many DV shelters and animal humane organizations address the issue of allocated spaces for pets of survivors in need of housing. The standard was set by identifying the number of “safe havens” per capita in each state. Safe havens were comprised of humane societies, veterinary offices, foster homes, and DV shelters that welcome pets. Each safe haven operates a little differently functioning as independent nonprofit organizations, through formal partnerships between domestic violence agencies, and as animal agencies or groups. Some rely on networks of foster care homes or use the additional kennel space of local veterinarians or the ASPCA. While Louisiana ranked among the lowest in this study coming in at .17 safe havens per 100,000 people, it doesn’t exhibit that many DV centers and pet service organizations accommodate multiple parishes. In actuality, 39 parishes (61% of all parishes) have safe havens. 

Their compiled list of safe havens can be found at: safehavensforpets.org/#all-safehavens

It includes the organizations below:

4 Paws Rescue Inc.
RUSTON, LA 71270

Chez Hope

Metro Centers for Community Advocacy

Big Sky Ranch – CATNIP Foundation
FOLSOM, LA 70437

Southeast Spouse Abuse Program

The Wellspring Alliance for Families
MONROE, LA 71202

St. Bernard Battered Women’s Program
ARABI, LA 70032

Faith House Inc.

Oasis Safe Havens for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Communities Against Domestic Abuse

LaFASA recently spoke in a podcast with Mark Medina from Metro Centers for Community Advocacy, one of LaFASA’s dual member centers (you can listen to the podcast here). Mark mentioned a couple of additional locations they work with that are not included in the formal findings of the AWI. It’s definitely worth noting that though a rescue organization may not have been formally identified as a safe haven in this poll, because many work through a foster system they are oftentimes able to find adequate temporary shelter for pets. As well, many veterinary offices are willing to assist on a case to case basis. It’s important to emphasize that advocates throughout the entire state can help survivors by contacting their family and friends for temporary boarding.

Local DV agencies and advocates can also help those in need to create an action or safety plan. The AWI and National Domestic Violence Hotline have published safety plan resource pages on their websites that include pets. Always remember that record of ownership, such as a veterinary bill or an adoption/purchase receipt, and vaccination records are generally required when utilizing the services of on-site care or foster homes. These types of records should always be made easily accessible when formulating a security strategy.

Personal safety is a survivor and family’s first priority, but it’s important to consider how pets fit into any plan. No one should have to worry about their pet, regardless of what kind of pet they have, being harmed or left behind in a dangerous situation. There is always hope and a path for everyone to be safe.  

We invite you to listen to the podcast for an in depth and enlightening discussion on how Metro helps its survivors when considering their pets.

Cat and dog resting together

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