Creating Safe Spaces for Victims of Abuse and Their Pets
By Chris Coulter, Rescue Rebuild Program Manager
Have you ever seen the stick figure family stickers on the back windshield of a car? Notice how a lot of these stickers will include their family pet? Pets have that special ability of finding their way into your heart and becoming an essential part of your family. Whether it’s through their uncontrollable excitement and repeated tail wagging every time you walk through the door or their shy but loud purrrrrring when they find a quiet time to come perch next to you on the couch, they form such a strong bond that you wouldn’t think of leaving them out of the stick figure “family portrait.”
Unfortunately, sometimes the real portrait of that family isn’t as loving as those stickers portray. One in four women has been a victim of severe physical abuse by her husband or partner at some time in her life while 48% of victims are unable to leave the relationship because they are fearful of what may happen to their pets after they leave. So, this endless cycle of abuse continues. Most women’s domestic abuse shelters do not allow pets. This is where Rescue Rebuild felt we had to get involved. Rescue Rebuild, with the help of RedRover, went to a women’s domestic abuse shelter in Washington State to help make a difference.
A total of four rooms were made pet-friendly in a matter of weeks! Old carpet was ripped out and replaced with a low-maintenance tile allowing for easy cleanup around the water bowl, etc. We dedicated one wall in each room to our feline friends with platforms they can climb that lead up to their very own cat-bridge. This bridge spans the entire length of a big double window allowing for the kitty to look outside or lay care-free soaking in some sunlight all while inside. Of course, we couldn’t leave out the dogs! We installed spring loaded doggie doors into each room that lead out to their very own fenced in backyard. And with the new addition of pet-friendly rooms, women will now be able to leave their situation and bring their pets with them!
No longer will these survivors be worrying about their pet, because they will be right by their side providing unending love and that stress relief that only a pet can provide. Now their road to healing can truly begin. What a great way to help these women and their pets start a new life together!
This problem exists all over the country, and we need your help to renovate additional domestic violence shelters. Donate today to provide survivors a safe place to escape with their furry family members by clicking here.