March 31, 2012

Pets Find Safety at the Nest

This is something that is close to my heart as I had to leave behind my 2 loving dogs with my abuser who then abused & neglected them...thankfully a neighbor saw the dogs situation and they were taken from him, but it was so hard to leave them behind and it did keep me in the abuse longer then I should have stayed since I couldn't protect them if I wasn't there. This is wonderful to see!!! So many are starting to see the connection between animal abuse/cruelty and Domestic Violence, and the outcome are programs like this that address those needs and make it easier and safer for a victim to leave her situation. Please support programs like this, they are very much needed!

Here’s some information that we have gathered so far:  Animal Cruelty and DV

In response to survivor needs, the Nest Domestic Violence Shelter is going to build several kennels designed to accommodate household pets of the women and children who live at the Nest.

Research shows almost 50 percent of domestic violence victims delay or refuse leaving an abusive home out of fear of leaving their pets or livestock behind.

For anyone who has ever loved a pet, this isn’t surprising.  It is understandable, especially in light of the fact that most women entering domestic violence shelters report their partner has threatened, injured or killed their pet.

“We see more and more victims arriving with their pets.  Thus far, we have been able to partner with the Humane Society, animal boarding businesses and volunteers in the community to temporarily ‘foster’ our survivor’s pets while they are in shelter.  Our new kennels offer a permanent solution to sometimes tricky situation.  The residents of the Nest immerse themselves in rebuilding their lives, which means they are out working all day and or attending school.  The kennels will provide safe respite for the pets while the residents are out of shelter,” explains Nest Supervisor Terry Thompson.

A number of studies have identified an overwhelming link between family violence and pet abuse.

The Humane Society of the United States established the First Strike Program to address the connection.

The program produces a variety of materials on animal cruelty and its connections to domestic violence, child and elder abuse and community violence.

Simply put, animal abuse in a family is an indicator that other forms of abuse may also be occurring.

Laura Bonar, Program Director of Animal Protection of New Mexico, explains, "Research tells us that someone who is physically abusive to his wife and children is also likely to be abusive to the family pet. Batterers may threaten to harm the animal in order to control the victim and prevent her from leaving. If the victim is able to get out of the situation, it is not uncommon for batterers take out their aggression on the animals left behind."

HEAL Executive Director Coleen Widell tells of an experience she had in Connecticut during a consultation at a shelter. During her visit, a box of beautiful long-stemmed roses arrived, intended for one of the residents. As she opened the box, much to her horror, the resident found her new puppy's tail in the box. She immediately left the shelter and returned home.

Twenty two states, as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico, have enacted legislation that includes provisions for pets in domestic violence protection orders. Despite several efforts by domestic violence advocates, New Mexico is not one of those states.
The Nest is seeking donations to assist with the kennel project.

If you are interested, please contact HEAL office manager Susanne Francis at 575-378- 6378.

HEAL & The Nest Domestic Violence Shelter

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