New Coalition Supports Legislation Protecting Domestic Abuse Victims and Their Pets
A group of nonprofit and for-profit organizations have joined forces to better protect domestic violence survivors by establishing, validating and promoting the criticality of protecting their pets, too. This coalition is urging passage of the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act (H.R. 909, S.322), a bill that is adamant about removing a roadblock that is essential to the safety of these survivors with pets, enabling them to live healthy, safe lives, together. Organizations in the coalition include:
- Nestle Purina PetCare
- Bayer Corporation
- Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI)
- Noah’s Animal House
- Pet Partners
- Urban Resource Institute
Two of these organizations, Noah’s Animal House and Urban Resource Institute, are part of the 3 percent of domestic violence shelters across the country working to keep both pets and their owners away from the dangers of domestic abuse. Together these organizations have saved more than 1,500 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.
“Up to 65 percent of domestic violence victims remain in abusive homes out of fear for their pet’s safety, and even more women residing in domestic violence shelters reported that a pet was harmed by their abuser,” said URI president and CEO Nathaniel Fields. “Through the Urban Resource Institute’s innovative People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) program, domestic violence survivors in New York City are able to find safe harbor with their pets in one of our dedicated shelters. PALS is the largest and only model of its kind in New York State, and this new coalition will help extend that life-saving, pet-inclusive approach to domestic violence shelters across America.”
The PAWS Act Coalition members have been working to promote awareness and encourage support for the legislation, with 247 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 37 in the Senate. There is now new momentum with the bill’s language included in the recently-passed Senate Farm Bill.
The PAWS Act Coalition is especially grateful for the efforts of Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for their leadership and commitment to pass the Pet and Women Safety Act.
“I was proud to work with my colleague Senator Gary Peters and several advocacy groups to introduce the PAWS Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would ensure victims are not forced to choose between their personal safety and the safety of their pet,” said Senator Heller. “As the fifth most bipartisan senator in the U.S. Senate, I’ll continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to see that domestic violence survivors in Nevada and around the country have access to critical, life-saving services and programs that meet their needs and allow them to escape abuse and find safe haven.”
“For most pet owners, the bond with their pet is incredibly strong, and for people in abusive relationships, their pet can be an important source of comfort,” said Dr. Kurt Venator, DVM, PhD, chief veterinary officer at Purina. “Purina is very proud to support efforts to keep families and their pets together during this time of healing.”
“Since 2007, Noah’s Animal House has cared for and protected over 1,400 pets of domestic violence survivors for 90,000 boarding nights,” said Staci Columbo-Alonso, founder, Noah’s Animal House. “The need to provide safety and protection for the pets of these women and children is on the rise, and we are hopeful that in joining this important group of like-minded organizations, we can help more shelters across the country care for these families together.”
“Bayer recognizes the great need to support domestic violence shelters that care for both survivors and their beloved pets,” said Lauren Dorsch, deputy director, communications, Bayer Animal Health. “Survivors of domestic violence should not have to choose between their safety and a loved one, and these shelters make it possible for them to heal in a safe place, without saying goodbye to their pets.”
“Pet Partners therapy animal team handlers and advocates all across the country are using their grassroots power to support the PAWS Act Coalition, so that pets and people can stick together in traumatic situations - when they need each other most,” said Annie Peters, CEO of Pet Partners.