By: Richard Sager
Imagine being beaten, abused and almost killed by a domestic partner, but staying in that house or apartment because you refuse to leave your loving pet behind—and unsafe. This may sound unusual but this scenario is a reality for two-out-of-five domestic violence victims.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, up to 40 percent of domestic violence victims are unable to escape their abusers because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets when they leave.
Two of my close friends have experienced domestic violence, and I understand how difficult it is to get out of that situation. I also know what it’s like to cherish a pet. As a lifetime animal lover, I’m very familiar with the emotional connections developed and the deep love for a pet. In many ways, pets are part of the family. That’s why it’s so important to care for victims of domestic violence who risk their own life to protect their closest—and sometimes only—companion.
I found out about this heartbreaking situation through the American Kennel Club (AKC) Humane Fund, a grant-giving animal nonprofit that has been fighting the link between pets and domestic violence for years by funding women’s shelters around the country that take in survivors of domestic violence and their pets. The AKC Humane Fund removes the heart-wrenching choice between seeking safety and saving a beloved pet, breaking the cycle of domestic abuse and saving lives.
In just six years, the AKC Humane Fund has granted hundreds of thousands of dollars to deserving women’s shelters. These grants help shelters pay for pet-related expenses—everything from vaccinations to leashes to large projects, such as building outdoor pet play areas or laminating floors for easier cleanup. Those simple items and projects improve the quality of life for the animals and their recovering owners, at a time when they need it most.
In most states, less than a handful of domestic violence shelters offer pet services on-site. Some women seeking shelter from abuse are forced to drive more than 10 hours to find a shelter that will take them in along with their pet. Many cannot make the trip. The AKC Humane Fund continues to aid more and more women’s shelters seeking to become pet friendly.
During the recovery process, animals bring joy, peace and hope to survivors of domestic violence. The fact that the AKC Humane Fund has recognized that and taken action is brilliant. My family and I will continue to donate to the AKC Humane Fund for as long as there are people who need to escape domestic violence with their pets. I hope you’ll help too by visiting www.akchumanefund.org.
Animal lover, AKC supporter