We’re taking a break from our usual Sunday book reviews/interviews to write about a subject close to our heart. Valentine’s Day is fast approaching but there’s nothing but heartbreak for many women and their pets.
According to NPR, research shows as the poor economy and unemployment worsens in the U.S. domestic abuse and animal abuse rises. There’s an old expression: never kick a dog when they’re down but that exactly what happens to many woman who want to leave their abuser.
The stats are chilling: 71% women with pets entering women’s shelters reported that their abuser had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims; 32% reported their children had hurt or killed animals. Despite the stats, the majority of battered women choose to stay in abusive situations because they worry about what will happen to their pets should they leave.
Many women’s shelters are not equipped to accept pets but some do. The list is slowly growing. Rose Brooks The first pet-friendly women’s shelter Kansas City, Missouri opened recently. One of our readers in Atlanta told me about a place called Ahimsa House. I stopped in my tracks. As a long time practioner of Bhakti yoga, I know that word well. Ahimsa (Sanskrit) : अहिंसा ahiMsaa: nonviolence; harmlessness; not injuring any living being. It’s the root principle of Hindu scriptures. The word is perfect for their mandate of: helping human and animal victims of domestic violence find safety together. I instantly felt at home at their beautiful website filled with valuable and potentially life-saving information.
Ahimsa House, founded by Emily Christie in 2004 after she lost a pet to domestic violence, originally maintained a shelter for animals at a secret location in metro Atlanta. In March 2007, Ahimsa House launched the Emergency Animal Safehouse Services program, which houses animals via a network of foster homes and boarding facilities across the state.
There are only 60+ shelters that provide on-site accommodation for families and their pets statewide in the U.S. at this Directory. One day maybe all shelters will be be safe havens for women and their beloved pets.
This Valentines’ Day, let’s show real love. Real love doesn’t hurt. Forget chocolates or roses this year. How about a donation to one of these shelters? Find the one nearest you. If you can’t donate, volunteer. There are many opportunities for volunteers including fostering or delivering pets. If you can’t volunteer then share this post via social media. Sharing buttons provided below this post. This is a call to action: we can always do something.
Tips from The National Network to End Domestic Violence on safer computer use. Abusers tend to be controlling and want to track your every move online.