There are so many reasons why victims of domestic violence may not feel ready to leave their abusers. Hope’s Door counselors do not ever tell clients they must leave their abuser, but we do spend a lot of time helping victims to find solutions to their individual challenges to leaving.
One such challenge that we often hear, is how can I leave my kitties, or how can I leave behind my children’s dog?
We have long contemplated whether we could somehow house the pets of our shelter residents, but the obstacles seemed too great to surmount. Until one day recently when we received a phone call from a local boarding kennel, offering to help Hope’s Door by taking in the pets of our clients while they are in shelter and empowering themselves for a new way of life.
After years of puzzling, all at once the pieces were beginning to fall into place. We crafted a Memo of Understanding between our two agencies, and continued to work out logistics. We now have agreements with two such willing partners. And we have created a process for evaluating our clients’ pets for acceptance into shelter, so victims with pets can leave their abuser with a little more peace of mind.
There are a few important guidelines we follow before being able to accept pets. The client must be able to establish ownership of the animal, although in some cases, it may be enough for a veterinary doctor to confirm that the client was the primary caregiver for the animal. The animal must undergo an evaluation for health and for temperament; we cannot accept overly aggressive animals or biters.
But if these are not issues for our clients, then we can easily take the pet and ensure top quality pet care at an undisclosed location during the client’s stay at our shelter. Just this morning, we fielded our first hotline call from a victim who sought housing for her and her children, as well as a safe, secret place for her dog to stay. We are so excited to launch this new program! Hope’s Door is here for you, and now we are here for your pets, as well!