Pets to get shelter from domestic abuse
Friday, April 21, 2006
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Much has been said about the human victims of domestic abuse.
But yesterday, Columbus City Council joined with a local nonprofit group to announce a new foster-care program for the other victims — the pets of abused women and children.
The new Safe Haven for Pets program will care for those animals because women sometimes won’t leave abusive relationships because women’s shelters don’t allow pets, said Lesley Ashworth, executive director of the People and Animal Welfare Society. The women fear that if they leave without the pets, the animals will become targets for abuse.
During the next few months, the society will accept cats, dogs or other pets and take them to the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, where inmates will care for them.
"Victims won’t have to choose between their safety and that of their beloved pets," said Karen Days, executive director of the Coalition against Family Violence.
After the victim recovers, typically about 90 days, pets can be reunited with their owner or placed with another family, Ashworth said.
Placing the pets in a secure place such as a prison means disgruntled men won’t forcefully try to get the pet back.
Many of the women at the prison have been abused themselves.
"It is almost a perfect circle of care and nurturing," said veterinarian James Prueter, who co-founded a similar program in Cleveland called SAFE, after which Safe Haven is modeled.
As part of Safe Haven, domestic-violence support groups such as CHOICES will include questions about pets on their intake questionnaires. Other groups, such as Legal Aid and the Columbus city attorney’s office, have agreed to refer people to the program.
The Capital Area Humane Society will treat any abused pet and then transport it to the prison, society agent Kerry Manion said.
PAWS, which is spearheading the new program, was created last year with an $86,000 grant from the City Councilto coordinate domestic-violence and animal-abuse initiatives.