Press release: PetSmart Charities
As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, another global pandemic looms under the surface – domestic abuse and intimate partner violence. In the U.S. on average, around 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner per minute, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. As quarantine protocols remain in many areas to protect the public from the virus, many domestic abuse victims and their pets are finding themselves now trapped with their abuser. Up to 48 percent of domestic abuse victims do not leave their abuser because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets, and with as few as 10 percent of domestic violence shelters accepting pets into their facilities, survivors often feel they have few choices beyond staying in a violent situation.
This October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, PetSmart Charities is continuing to keep pets and people together with a $2.1 million commitment to programs serving at-risk pet parents experiencing domestic abuse and other crises heightened by COVID-19, across the U.S. and Canada. Funding will support an array of programs such as pet-friendly domestic violence shelters, pet deposits for pet-friendly housing, emergency pet boarding and other initiatives to ensure pets and people remain together during uncertain times.
“Not only are pets a common reason why victims delay leaving their abusers, animal abuse is often the first indicator of domestic violence within a household,” said Aimee Gilbreath, president of PetSmart Charities. “As an Arizona-based organization, we’re proud to not only support our community, but communities across the U.S. and Canada to provide resources that bridge the gap to a safer environment for both people and pets – especially during the pandemic.”
Coast-to-coast, from the U.S. to Canada, grants have been distributed to animal welfare organizations as well as social services agencies for people fleeing domestic abuse, precariously housed people, those too ill to care for their pets and LGBTQ+ youth facing housing instability. Below is a summary of some of the organizations who have received grants to help prevent pet relinquishment or separation.
- Urban Resource Institute in New York City helps transform the lives of domestic violence survivors and homeless families, with a focus on communities of color and other vulnerable populations. The organization is using it’s $100,000 grant over the next year to expand the People and Animals Safely (PALS) program into two new shelter facilities to serve an additional 140 clients and their pets annually who are experiencing domestic violence, ensuring pets and families remain together.
- Street Outreach Animal Response (SOAR) in Indianapolis is using its $65,000 grant to support the Crisis Response Program to provide emergency placement and services for approximately 670 pets of people experiencing domestic violence, homelessness, medical or mental health crisis and other displacements.
- The City of Chicago received a $50,000 grant to launch the Chicago Emergency Pet Preservation Program (CEPP) to support the pets of people experiencing domestic violence or homelessness by working with the 24/7 Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline and Family and Support Services Community Service Centers. The CEPP pilot program will help people keep and care for their pets during crisis by providing information, services and supplies with a goal of serving an estimated 550 pets for 445 clients.
- Harbor House in Orlando is Florida’s only state-certified domestic violence center in Orange County and one of the only in the state with both a licensed daycare and kennel on site. The organization is using its $20,000 grant to support the Paws for Peace Kennel Program which provides on-site sheltering and veterinary care for pets of people experiencing domestic violence.
- Arizona Coalition to End Sexual + Domestic Violence in Phoenix is using its $25,000 grant to support its BaRC program, which provides pet boarding and financial support for pets of people at risk of or experiencing domestic violence or sexual assault.
- Nellie’s Women’s Shelter in Toronto is undergoing renovation to become a pet-friendly, co-sheltering shelter. Its $50,000 grant is supporting Nellie’s Pet Friendly Program, which provides case management, services and supplies to people and pets fleeing domestic abuse