Friday, January 20, 2012

Pets In Shelter

In June of 2010 I posted a blog about animal abuse. I thought I would revisit that issue as there has been much in the press this past week about animals and domestic violence.

In homes with domestic violence, there is often abuse of the animals as well as abuse of the women. Animals are beloved members of the family and are often cited as reasons why a woman will stay in the relationship so she doesn’t have to leave her pet/family member behind. 

At Hope House we have been taking animals into shelter for over 10 years. We recognized that leaving the animals in the home was an obstacle that needed to be addressed to allow women to leave when they were ready.

We have two kennels at each of our locations, one for a dog and one for a cat. Asking about pets at home is part of the routine questions asked on the hotline. We determine
 if pets will be safe at home; if arrangements need to be made with family or friends; or if they need to bring the pet into shelter with them.

Our process had been to seek the help of local animal agencies in taking the animals for a temporary period of time while the client made other arrangements or found her own permanent housing. Unfortunately, over the past few years those agencies have been overwhelmed with their own animals and haven’t had the extra space to take our client’s animals. 

Consequently, we have had animals staying with us longer in shelter. This has had its advantages in that the client is with her pet and can find comfort in knowing that they are close and safe. It is a challenge in that we do not have a dedicated space for the pets. But somehow we always find a space.

It is such a pleasure to sit in my office and look out the window and see clients running around in the courtyard with their dogs. It is a great to hear dogs barking and having a wonderful time with their owners, knowing that they are all safe.

We will continue to provide this needed and worthwhile service, and continue to look at improving the options for our clients and their pets. For more statistics and information about this issue, 
visit my earlier blog.


  1. Wow what a great service to provide! I used to take my dog as a therapy partner into a women's shelter and so many of the women talked about the pets they left behind. I am sure there is great need in the area.

  2. Lisa, thanks for the comment. What a wonderful service YOU provided by sharing your dog with those women! The pain they must have been going through not knowing what was happening to their pets... we know that pets are very much like children in the way we love them.

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  4. MaryAnne,

    Thank you. Both my dog and I truly enjoyed those visits, I remember them so clearly even though they were a long time ago now. I just can't imagine not knowing what was happening to my pets in a situation like that. I know in most cases they just don't have the resources to be able to help their beloved pet friend.

  5. Lisa, you're right - resources are a major obstacle. If a woman doesn't have a friend/family that can take in her pet, what does she do? Even those of us that aren't in crisis couldn't afford to board our pets at the vet for more than a few days! We're thrilled to be able to provide the peace of mind that comes with knowing your pet is safe and nearby.