NFL Star Russell Wilson Backs Banfield’s Safer Together Initiative

October 3, 2019

Press release: Banfield Foundation

On September 17, the Banfield Foundation launched its Safer Together public service announcement featuring NFL champion and pet advocate Russell Wilson. The PSA (click here to view) was designed to help raise awareness of the link between domestic violence and animal abuse because, sadly, in homes where domestic violence occurs, pets are often victims, too.

Research suggests up to 89 percent of pet-owning domestic violence victims report their abuser has either threatened, injured or killed the family pet, and as many as 48 percent of victims remain in an abusive relationship because they fear for the safety of their pet. However, with an estimated 6-10 percent of domestic violence shelters allowing animals, the urgent need to create and grow support for pet-friendly programs is critical to protect the human-animal bond and save lives.

“It’s heartbreaking that, all over the country, women, men and children are seeking refuge from domestic violence – and many remain in danger because they do not have access to pet-friendly shelters or programs,” said Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. “I am honored to partner with the Banfield Foundation to help create a world in which victims never have to choose between their own safety and the safety of loved ones, including their pets.”

Pro football champion and pet advocate Russell Wilson poses for a photo with his dog, TBD, while filming a Safer Together public service announcement (PSA) with the Banfield Foundation on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Redmond, Wash. The PSA is now airing nationally, timed with National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, to help drive awareness that pets are often victims of domestic violence too. Many domestic violence victims stay in abusive situations because they fear for the safety of their pet, so the Banfield Foundation aims to educate and provide resources for pet owners, advocates and communities to help make a difference for pets and the people who love them. (Stephen Brashear/AP Images for the Banfield Foundation)

Since its inception in September 2015, the Banfield Foundation has awarded nearly $410,000 to 46 domestic violence related nonprofits, which have helped more than 4,000 pets. Earlier this year, the foundation announced its intent to raise awareness of the link between domestic violence and animal abuse by committing to invest $1 million over four years through its new Safer Together program. This multi-faceted initiative includes a grant program, the creation of an all-volunteer Advisory Committee, continuing education for the veterinary profession, and the PSA, starring Wilson.

“Russell is a passionate pet owner and advocate for domestic violence prevention and awareness, which made him the right voice for the Banfield Foundation’s Safer Together public service announcement,” said Kim Van Syoc, executive director of the Banfield Foundation. “Through this work, we are committed to raising awareness, enabling education, and providing valuable resources, in hopes of making a measurable difference in the lives of people and pets.”

The foundation’s new Safer Together grant program enables qualifying nonprofit organizations to apply for funding as they increase their capacity to help people and pets escaping domestic violence. Funding will largely focus on ensuring pets have access to preventive and emergency veterinary care, temporary shelter and behavior training. Nonprofits can also use a portion of the grant money to cover costs of a dedicated animal support specialist focused on pet health and well-being.

Another valuable way the foundation is helping is by engaging and training the veterinary profession and providing educational resources; the hope is to expand the universe of people aware of the link between domestic violence, people and their pets. As such, the foundation has created an all-volunteer Advisory Committee of leading experts within the animal welfare and domestic violence industry to help guide the Safer Together program.

The Safer Together PSA will air nationally on TV and radio through the end of 2019.

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