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Help for Victims of Domestic Violence and Their Pets

(Photo by Jenny Coffey)
(Photo by Jenny Coffey)
Efforts in New York City to create safe havens for victims of domestic violence and their pets was the subject of a New York Daily News article published on Saturday, January 28. According to the article, prepared by Daily News reporter Amy Sacks, nearly 85 percent of women who enter domestic abuse shelters report that their batterers had threatened, injured, or killed a family pet. Sadly, many of those women remain with their abusers because they do not want to leave beloved pets behind and at risk.

Social worker Jenny Coffey, who manages a pilot program, Help for Pets and People in Crisis, for the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals that seeks to provide assistance to pet owners who are experiencing serious personal crises, including victims of domestic violence, explains in a quote from the article, “Pets are often targeted first as a threat to scare and silence victims.”

Around the country, cities in nearly 30 states have co-sheltering initiatives for people experiencing domestic violence, including programs in Arlington, VA, Kansas City, MO, Las Vegas, NV, Naples, FL, San Antonio, TX, Tacoma, WA, and others. To learn more about these initiatives, visit the Sheltering Animals & Families Together (SAF-T) website.

Currently, New York City does not have a co-sheltering program, and that needs to change. Read the article to learn more about how some New Yorkers are working to develop programs to help domestic violence victims seek refuge without leaving their pets behind.