October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and according to a Safe Place for Pets, up to 65 percent of domestic violence victims are unable to escape their abusive partners because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets when they leave.
Those who choose to leave and take their pets with them, often find that local domestic violence shelters do not accept pets. The American Humane Associationreports that some women who have left homes with their pets wind up living in their cars for more than four months until a space opens up at a pet-friendly safe house.
Thankfully some support exists for abused women. A number of shelters for domestic violence and abuse victims are beginning to create safe places for domestic violence victims and their pets to stay. And thanks to the Animal Welfare Institute’s Safe Havens Mapping Project, it’s becoming easier to locate shelters that accept pets.
Laws are changing too. Anti-cruelty laws exist in all 50 states and territories to prohibit animal abuse. If you need help, contact your local humane society, SPCA, animal-control agency, or veterinarian to see if they know of temporary foster care for pets belonging to battered women.
If you are in an abusive relationship, and are planning on leaving, make sure your pets are vaccinated against rabies, and license your pets with your town or county. Having a license shows you are your pets owner, and while we think of our pets as our children, the law sees pets as property. Showing your pets are up-to-date on all vaccines — including rabies — shows you are a caring pet parent.
If you know your partner is abusive, don’t leave your pets with him or her. If you can’t find a shelter that accepts you and your pets, consider leaving your pets with other family members or friends.
For more tips, visit American Humane Association, the Animal Welfare Institute’s Safe Havens Mapping Project, and Safe Place for Pets.