The decision to leave an abusive environment is always difficult, but throwing pets into the mix complicates everything.
Women's shelters, like Autumn House in Nova Scotia, provide domestic violence victims the support they need to change their lives. But for pet owners, there's a catch. Shelters typically have "no-pet policies," and moving into the shelter often means leaving dogs and cats behind to suffer their own kinds of abuse.
In many cases, caring for a pet delays, and even prevents, women from leaving abusive homes, but Autumn House is trying to change that.
In the past, the shelter would do their best to find pet fosters, but the system was unreliable. Many women refused to enter the shelter knowing their pets would be left behind. The newly initiated program called Safe Pet offers pet owners a reliable solution.
By working with a local animal shelter and veterinary clinic, Autumn House can guarantee that pets will be taken care of. The animals receive full medical check-ups and are set up with reliable foster families while their owners transition into the women's shelter.
The purpose of the women's shelter is to give victims of domestic violence a place to escape. They come to the shelter to get away from abusive partners and toxic environments while they work on starting new lives. The shelter helps them rebuild with jobs and new places to live, and caring for a pet during these tenuous times isn't always possible. But with the Safe Pet program, dogs and cats are in safe hands while their owners work toward a future that's better for both of them.
Studies confirm that people who abuse spouses and children are also likely to abuse pets. When those pets are part of the family, leaving them behind is an impossible decision. It's an issue faced by domestic violence victims all over the world, and few shelters offer the help they need.
Autumn House has already experienced notable success with their Safe Pet system, and they hope to be an example for other women's shelters across the globe.
What do you think about helping victims of domestic violence care for their pets? Let us know in the comments.
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