Within the past 10 years, professionals working in the violence prevention field have become more conscious of the fact that many victims of domestic violence delay leaving a dangerous environment because of a strong attachment to companion animals who may be left behind. They justifiably fear for the pet’s safety; where there is domestic violence, animal abuse is often present, as well.
Responding to the need to make it easier for domestic violence victims to escape, communities around the country began to create “safe havens for pets” programs. They are, as their name suggests, places of refuge for the companion animals of domestic violence victims. They come in many forms—housing the animals in foster homes; in space provided by local humane societies or veterinarians; or, increasingly, in shelters where the animals can stay with their human companions.
For these programs to be effective, people in the community have to know they exist. Through its Safe Havens Mapping Project, AWI is trying to make sure they do. AWI staff and volunteers have worked to identify safe havens for pets programs throughout the United States—over 1,400 so far in all 50 states and the District of Columbia—and to put that information on our website. Visitors to the site can now search for safe havens by zip code.
Additions, deletions, and other changes in such a list are inevitable, and AWI will be working to ensure that the information remains accurate and up to date. Additional resources for families in crisis, as well as for the domestic violence shelter personnel, humane societies, law enforcement, and others who provide services to human and animal victims of abuse, are available through AWI’s Animals and Family Violence web page. To find a safe haven in your area, or to learn more about these programs, please visit www.awionline.org/safe-havens.