Pets Are Family: Where Do They Shelter When There’s Domestic Violence?


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This is a press release noting that Red Rover has hit the $2 million milestone for pets of domestic violence survivors, as pets are family too. Not fleeing a violent perpetrator can cost pet lives and human lives; the problem is that in most communities there’s nowhere to flee with all family members. Red Rover, Purina and others are hoping to change this via the Purple Leash Project

RedRover has reached a major milestone in Safe Housing: Since the program’s inception in 2012, they have distributed two million dollars in grant funding! In the second grant period of 2021 alone, RedRover awarded $450,165 to 14 shelters nationwide. Safe Housing grants enable domestic violence shelters to create pet housing programs and allow animal shelters to build dedicated housing for animal victims of abuse.

This September, RedRover tripled their grants from up to $20,000 per grant to now a maximum of $60,000 per grant. Funding may be used to build or renovate spaces dedicated to housing survivors’ pets, create a foster program to care for survivors’ pets, pay for temporary boarding for survivors’ pets, or a combination of services that will best serve the community. Grant funds may also be used for routine veterinary care, emergency veterinary care, and pet deposits.

Five of the 14 grants awarded are RedRover + Purina Purple Leash Project grants, an extension of RedRover’s Safe Housing grants,including the first pet-friendly DV shelter in the state of Rhode Island! Three Safe Housing Animal Shelter grants were awarded for a total of $145,000.

“Survivors often won’t leave their abusers because they fear they won’t be able to find a shelter that will house their pets, too,” said RedRover President and CEO, Nicole Forsyth. “Our grants eliminate that barrier by empowering more shelters to build pet-friendly spaces so a survivor and their pet will have a safe haven from harm.”

Safe Housing grantees during this application period:

 Domestic Violence Shelters

  • The Glynn Community Crisis Center, Inc. (Amity House) – Glynn County, GA, $60,000
  • Bay Area Women’s Center – Bay County, MI, $3,760
  • Community Action Stops Abuse, Inc. (CASA) – Pinellas County, FL, $20,000
  • REACH of Haywood County – Haywood County, NC, $20,000
  • The Sexual Assault Spouse Abuse Resource Center Inc. (SARC) – Harford County, MD, $60,000
  • Embrace Services, Inc. – Rusk County, WI, $36,600

Purple Leash Project Domestic Violence Shelter grantees

  • The Spring – Tulsa County, OK, $10,000
  • Services to Abused Families, Inc. – Culpeper County, VA, $7,950
  • Family Violence Prevention Center of Greene County – Greene County, OH, $46,055
  • Sojourner House – Providence County, RI, $21,800
  • YWCA of Bradford – McKean County, PA, $19,000

Animal Shelters

  • Belleville Area Humane Society, St. Clair County, IL, $60,000
  • The Animal Protective Association of Missouri, St. Louis County, MO, $25,000
  • Chesapeake Humane Society – Chesapeake, VA, $60,000

 According to research conducted by Dr. Frank Ascione, as many as 71 percent of pet-owning women entering domestic violence shelters report their abuser injured, killed, or threatened family pets for revenge or psychological control. Additionally, up to 48 percent of domestic violence victims reported delaying leaving their abusers because they feared what would happen to their pets if they had to leave them behind.

“Thanks to RedRover’s grant we are able to create agreements with community partners so we can house larger and more pets than our shelter kennel can handle,” said Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA) CEO, Lariana Forsythe. “This will make it easier for survivors to escape to safety.”

Kim Brown, vice president and COO of the Animal Protective Association of Missouri said, “To ensure that every family member, including pets, can get to safety when leaving a violent home environment, the APA Safe Care program works with area domestic violence shelters to provide free, temporary shelter and care for pets of domestic violence survivors. Thanks to RedRover’s grant, we are able to add two additional large dog kennels, increasing our capacity to keep people and pets together when they need each other most.”

Embrace Executive Director Katie Bement said, “RedRover’s grant enables us to make the emergency shelter safe and accessible for survivors and their pets keeping them together. This grant project will also allow us to build a partnership with local landlords and veterinary clinics to ensure survivors and their pets are cared for and can stay together in their own safe and stable home.”

RedRover and Purina set a goal to ensure that 25% of domestic violence shelters in the U.S. are pet-friendly by 2025. Deadlines to apply for Safe Housing and Purple Leash Project grants are May 15 and October 15 each year. To learn more, visit: RedRover.org/SafeHousing.