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PAWS Act Coalition Lauds Grant Funding to Aid Domestic Violence Survivors, Pets

Glenn Polyn//March 16, 2022//

PAWS Act Coalition Lauds Grant Funding to Aid Domestic Violence Survivors, Pets

Glenn Polyn //March 16, 2022//

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Press release: PAWS Act Coalition

The Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act Coalition recently celebrated the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, which for the third year in a row, includes funding for an important grant program designed to enable more domestic violence shelters to become pet-friendly so that victims of domestic violence and their pets may seek safe shelter together. The $3 million appropriated for 2022 represents a $500,000 increase in funding from 2021, up to the fully-authorized amount, and comes three years after bipartisan passage of the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.

“Congressional funding for the PAWS Act, coupled with private sector support, directly results in more domestic abuse survivors and their pets being able to safely enter shelter and start the next chapter of their lives together,” said Nina Leigh Krueger, CEO and president of Purina. “Through Purina’s partnership with RedRover on the Purple Leash Project, we’ve set a national goal to help ensure that at least 25 percent of domestic violence shelters in the U.S. are pet-friendly by 2025. Full funding of the PAWS Act keeps this goal within reach.”

Demand for the Emergency Transitional Pet Shelter Housing and Assistance Grant Program has continually surpassed the funding available for the program, leading to bipartisan calls to further increase funding in 2022. The PAWS Act Coalition honors the bipartisan efforts of 204 Representatives, led by Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA-5), and 43 Senators, led by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Gary Peters (D-MI), for requesting this critical funding for FY 2022.

Domestic violence shelters across the U.S. will be eligible to apply online for grants in the coming months, and additional details about the application process will be forthcoming from the U.S. Department of Justice, which administers the grant program. This continued funding follows the success of the FY 2020 and FY 2021 Emergency Transitional Pet Shelter Housing and Assistance Grant Programs, which awarded approximately $2 million to six organizations in six states across the nation in 2020 and a total of $2.42 million to five organizations in 2021. Future grants will provide emergency and transitional shelter and housing assistance or short-term shelter and housing assistance for domestic violence victims with pets, service animals, emotional support animals, or horses. Grants awarded may also be used for programs that provide support services designed to enable someone fleeing domestic violence to locate and secure safe housing with their pet, safe accommodations for their pet, or related services such as transportation and other assistance.

“The PAWS Act Coalition looks forward to working with the U.S. Department of Justice to raise awareness of this grant program so that more eligible organizations and programs access this funding,” said Steven Feldman, President of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI). “We are heartened to see funding for this program rise to its fully-authorized amount of $3 million, reflecting the reality that people need to seek safety and overcome trauma with pets by their side.”

Organizations in the PAWS Act coalition include:

• Purina (Nestlé Purina PetCare)

• Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI)

• Noah’s Animal House

• Pet Partners

• RedRover

• Urban Resource Institute (URI)

Two of these organizations, Noah’s Animal House and Urban Resource Institute, are part of the less than 20 percent of domestic violence shelters across the country that actively offer co-shelter services to keep both pets and their owners away from the dangers of domestic abuse. Together these two incredible organizations have saved over 2,500 pets from abusive conditions, so that no domestic violence survivor is forced to choose between staying in an abusive relationship and leaving their pet with their abuser.

Did you know?

• Nearly half (up to 48 percent) of domestic violence victims remain with an abuser out of fear for their pets’ safety.

• According to the Centers for Disease Control, 4.774 million women in the United States experience physical violence by an intimate partner every year.

• The majority of domestic violence situations include pets in the household, and 85 percent of women residing in domestic violence shelters reported a pet was harmed by their abuser.

• A growing body of science has demonstrated a link between domestic violence and animal cruelty. An outlet of emotional support for victims, the family pet often becomes a target for physical abuse.

“Since the launch of our groundbreaking People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) program in 2013, we have experienced tremendous growth in our trauma-informed programming and capacity to provide survivors of domestic abuse with a safe place to live and heal together with their pets,” said Nathaniel M. Fields, Chief Executive Officer of Urban Resource Institute. “Our PALS Report & Survey on Domestic Violence and Pets: Breaking Barriers to Safety & Healing found that 50 percent will not leave a dangerous situation without their pets, and 72 percent did not know some shelters accommodate pets. As dedicated members of the coalition, we are encouraged by the continuation of the PAWS Act grant program in providing more resources to domestic violence service providers around the country adopting pet-friendly options.”

“Since 2007, Noah’s Animal House has protected over 2,100 pets for more than 110,000 boarding nights, serving clients from over 33 states in the U.S, in addition to our home state of Nevada. Women drove thousands of miles from Florida, Oklahoma, Maine, Texas and others, driving past other women’s shelters in every state for one reason only, their pet had to be included in their escape plan,” said Staci Columbo Alonso, founder of Noah’s Animal House. “With the PAWS Act grant program entering its third year, we look forward to seeing more resources allocated to shelters and organizations across the country so that domestic violence survivors won’t have to travel far to locate safe shelter with their companion animals.”

“In support of the PAWS Act Coalition, Pet Partners grassroots advocates made their voices heard during every step of the legislative process: recruiting key co-sponsors in the Senate, supporting passage of the Senate Farm Bill, targeting members of the Conference Committee, and building support in communities across the country. Thanks to their continued efforts, thousands of constituent messages, tweets and phone calls to Congress were made emphasizing the importance of these provisions. Pet Partners is grateful for their actions that will help pets and people remain together in traumatic situations – when they need each other most,” said Annie Peters, CEO of Pet Partners. “Since 2007, RedRover has awarded more than $3 million in grant funding to help domestic violence survivors and their pets escape abusers,” said RedRover CEO and President, Nicole Forsyth. “We’re thrilled the PAWS Act grant program will continue with increased funding and resources to enable more survivors and their pets to seek safety together and begin their journey of healing.”