In its ongoing effort to address the needs of victims of domestic violence and their companion animals, the Animal Welfare Institute (www.awionline.org) announces a new feature on its Animals and Family Violence web page (http://www.awionline.org/content/animals-family-violence): a listing of Safe Havens searchable by zip code (www.awionline.org/safe-havens).
AWI's National Safe Havens Mapping Project has been in the works for several years as staff and a contingent of dedicated volunteers identified programs across the country that provide care for the companion animals of domestic violence victims—whether through allowing pets to remain with shelter residents, co-location with domestic violence shelters, independent facilities, fostering services, or other means.
Research and experience have both established that when animal abuse occurs in the family, other violence is also likely to be present, and vice versa. Because of the strong attachments they have with their pets, victims of domestic violence may delay leaving a dangerous situation because of fear for the pet's safety. Victims and their families need help; so do their companion animals. Safe havens provide that help, and the National Safe Havens Mapping Project is an important tool for individuals facing domestic violence, as well as for all of those who want to help them and their pets reach safety.
The information and resources available through the Animals and Family Violence page are designed for families experiencing abuse against a spouse, child, elderly family member, or companion animal, as well as for the domestic violence shelter personnel, humane societies, law enforcement, and others who provide services to families in crisis.
"AWI wants to provide practical tools and information to protect animals and their families," stated Cathy Liss, president of AWI. "We are pleased to provide these resources to the many dedicated people who come in contact with victims of domestic violence and their companion animals. We are especially thrilled that the years of work that went into compiling the directory and making it searchable by zip code is paying off!"
In addition to the National Safe Havens Mapping Project, these tools provide information on addressing safety planning for pets, questions to ask about pets at intake, and helping children of domestic violence victims, as well as a downloadable version of A Common Bond: Maltreated Children and Animals in the Home, a booklet containing guidelines for human service personnel in dealing with pets, domestic violence, and children. There is current information about which states allow inclusion of companion animals in Temporary Restraining Orders, a model Temporary Restraining Order, and model legislation for Temporary Restraining Orders.
The web page also provides opportunities to network with others in the larger community who are working to help domestic violence victims and their families, through a listserv of directors of safe havens for pets programs, downloadable materials, and links to other useful websites, such as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and Ahimsa House.
David LaBahn, president and CEO of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (www.APAInc.org) welcomes the AWI resource. "When there is violence in the home, everyone suffers," observed LaBahn. "As prosecutors, we know that abusers take out their rage on the family pets as a way to exert more power and control over children, spouses, even their elderly parents. AWI is providing a great service by making so many resources available in one place for victims of family violence as well as for prosecutors, law enforcement, and service providers. We appreciate their ongoing leadership in this area."
The Animal Welfare Institute (www.awionline.org) is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates and other important animal protection news.