If you think providing housing for companion animals at domestic violence shelters is a costly indulgence rather than an essential component in prevention, consider these sobering statistics (from Harbor House, a comprehensive domestic violence prevention program in Central Florida):
48 percent of domestic violence survivors delay leaving an abusive home because they have no safe place for their pets;
88 percent of pets living in homes with domestic abuse are either injured or killed;
Of all survivors who enter shelters to escape domestic violence, 57 percent have had a pet killed by their abuser.
It’s clear that providing a safe haven for pets can be an essential part of getting the human victims of domestic violence into their own safe haven.
Recognizing this reality over the past couple years, nearly a dozen shelters around the country have built kennels, some as part of an American Humane Association initiative.
In early November, Harbor House broke ground for the Paws for Peace Kennel, which, when complete next summer, will be the largest kennel built on site at a domestic violence shelter.
It’s a little surprising that kennels at shelters aren’t more common—the statistics being what they are. I have to chalk it up to the big divide that still exists between what we consider human concerns and what we consider animal concerns. Even after so many years twining our lives, most agencies and institutions keep dogs and people in distinct categories. But I hope the more we see dogs in oncology wards, nursing homes, prisons (trained by inmates), etc., the more we will seek holistic solutions whenever possible.
Learn more (watch the short video) about Paws for Peace Kennel.