YWCA Billings and Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter (YVAS) are partnering to provide protection and boarding for pets who are victims of domestic violence or displaced because of it. With a grant received from Red Rover, YVAS can offer boarding and care, free of charge, for pets of domestic violence victims who seek shelter and services through YWCA.
Working Together: Safe Havens for Victims of Domestic Violence & Their Pets:
In most homes, pets are cherished members of the family. However, when an abuser causes violence in the home, it can be inflicted on pets as well. Experts estimate that between 48 to 71 percent of abused women also have pets that have been abused or even killed. Abusers often threaten, injure, and at times kill pets to control their victims and create an environment of fear. The close relationship that abused women and their children feel toward their animals complicates their willingness to leave a violent situation, potentially putting themselves and their pets at risk for further violence. Studies indicate that approximately 20 to 48 percent of women have refused to leave a dangerous situation for fear of their pets’ safety. Some victims live in their cars with their pets rather than leaving them behind.
Currently, only 15 percent of shelters in the U.S. are able to accommodate pets. Because its domestic violence shelter is among those that was not constructed to accommodate pets, YWCA struggled to find approaches that would address pet care while human domestic violence victims were provided protection and turned to Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter for help in assisting with possible solutions. The two organizations decided to work together to meet the needs of both human and animal domestic violence victims, hoping that the partnership will help take pets out of harms’ way, at no cost to the pet’s owner, so that their owners may seek out safety and support for themselves.
For more information about this program, please visit https://yvas.org/community-resources/ywca/