XENIA — The Family Violence Prevention Center now has the ability to house pets involved in a domestic violence situation.
The “Sheltering Pets” project will allow FVPC to include pets in safety planning when abused family members seek help.
Pets need safety too according to a release from FVPC. More than 70 percent of pet-owning women entering shelters reported that their abuser had injured, killed, or threatened family pets, and nearly 50 percent have delayed leaving an abusive situation out of fear of harm to their animals, the release said.
“A pet is often seen as the only form of non-judgmental support in the home,” FVPC officials said in the release. “The bond this forges is so strong that many people would rather stay in the abusive situation than abandon their pets. As well, abusers can use pets as hostages to convince the survivor not to leave, or coerce survivors into returning to the abusive home. Allowing people to escape with their pets removes this barrier to safety. Including pets as a part of the family helps children understand that how pets are treated is important, and it validates their feelings for their pets.”
Advocates will be digging deeper into the home life of crisis callers to find out if any pet abuse has occurred and if a victim is concerned about leaving their pet behind or wants to protect their pet, FVPC will safety plan with them in hopes that they will choose safety over staying or living in their vehicles.
Sheltering pets with families in domestic violence shelters is not common and FVPC officials said they are excited to provide this when needed and able. There will be rooms in the safe house that will not house pets as well.
“We knew the project was big and outside of our knowledge base so we enlisted the help from multiple community partners.” said Harmony Thoma from FVPC. “We created outdoor and indoor areas for the use of our families with pets. We also used some of the financial assistance to purchase items that will make the existing bedrooms welcoming and enriching for pets. We also plan to make sure all of our guests are safe and comfortable around animals that are not their own.”
Shelterin Pets has been made possible with financial assistance from Red Rover, Purina (Purple Leash Project), the Cheryl Lightle/Wade Skaja Fund, Greeneview High School, and individual donors. Friends of FVPC purchased items off the pet housing wish list and Greene County Animal Care and Control brought over loads of supplies and expert guidance. Francis Kennels provided staff training on dog handling.
Family Violence Prevention Center of Greene County has a comprehensive range of services to help protect victims and provide the support services necessary to rebuild their lives through our four-prong approach of prevention, intervention, safe housing and outreach. Broadly, those services include a 24-hour crisis hotline, safe housing, children and youth services, community advocacy, counseling, education, and training.
For more information on the link between abuse of people and pets or to offer your support to FVPC’s plans for sheltering pets, contact Thoma at 937-376-8526 or visit www.violencefreefutures.org.