Pets and their owners escape domestic violence

When survivors of domestic violence start to think about how to escape from their abusive situations, they’re often faced with a difficult decision regarding their beloved pets. Staggering statistics say that 71 percent of pet-owning women entering women’s shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence). Most domestic violence shelters cannot accept animals, so many of these brave survivors are left to decide whether to leave their pets behind or continue to risk their lives by staying. Tragically, many victims choose to stay, for fear of what may happen to their animals if they leave.
Abuse Counseling and Treatment Inc. (ACT), whose mission is “to protect, support, educate and empower victims of domestic violence and their children, survivors of sexual assault and human trafficking in Lee, Hendry and Glades counties,” has recently created a partnership with the Caloosa Humane Society in order to provide free housing for pets of people who are trying to escape from their abusive situations.

Savannah Rounds of ACT says: “We have so much gratitude and respect for the Humane Society. They are really going out of their way for us and our clients. A service like this could be the difference between quite literally life or death, for either a human or an animal.”

ACT offers many important services, such as: an emergency protective shelter; a 24-hour crisis hotline; counseling, advocacy; support groups; a rape crisis center; outreach counseling; batterers intervention groups; a children’s program; as well as raising community and professional education and awareness.

Meanwhile, the Caloosa Humane Society now offers free care for ACT program participants for up to three weeks, giving them some time to make plans for the future. “During the three weeks we can help them come up with a more permanent solution, or see if someone is willing to temporarily foster while they get their life in order,” says Ms. Rounds.

Caloosa Humane Society strives to uphold its mission to shelter and protect pets. With their new expansion, they also offer wellness visits and preventative care, baths and nail trims, a low-cost spay and neuter program, dental care, emergency services and, now, a place for survivors of domestic violence to keep their pets safe while they navigate their way out of dangerous situations.

This partnership is such an important new development that is sure to save lives, as it helps to ease the stress in the minds of those struggling with the decision to leave. If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out.

ACT’s 24 Hour Hotline: 239-939-3112
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233).

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