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PetSmart Charities is committing $2.1 million to programs serving at-risk pet parents experiencing domestic abuse and other crises heightened by COVID-19 for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 

Funding will support 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.

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. Organizations that have received grants to help prevent pet relinquishment or separation include the Urban Resource Institute in New York City, N.Y., Street Outreach Animal Response in Indianapolis, Ind., The City of Chicago, Harbor House in Orlando, Fla., Arizona Coalition to End Sexual + Domestic Violence in Phoenix, Ariz. and Nellie’s Women’s Shelter in Toronto.

“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 Ariz.-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.”