Animals can bring so much joy to people’s lives and often are of incredible service emotionally, physically and spiritually. Once part of a family unit, it is extremely difficult to leave them behind or give them up for adoption, particularly if there are children who have bonded with the pet.
In fleeing domestic violence, finding safe refuge for a vulnerable or abused pet can be a difficult feat. So much so, that a number of women make a conscious decision not to leave a violent situation when they are unable to locate adequate care for their pet. It is with this in mind that we are absolutely delighted with our partnership with Alberta Alliance for the Safety of Animals and People (AASAP). It has been truly heart-warming to hear feedback from families about how essential the program was to their flight to safety and how helpful it was to their healing journey.
Sadly, in a domestically violent environment, pets are often used as a power and control tool, whereby an abuser may threaten or actually act out harm or death to the pet. In other situations, if left with the abuser, we have heard from clients that they feared the pet would be neglected and not provided with food or water. When we inform callers to our Helpline about our pet program, they are very much relieved; their confidence builds when we are able to work with our partners to conduct a medical exam for the pet and foster it in a loving and safe environment until the family can be reunited.
The pet program has been so very successful in numerous ways. If anyone is interested in supporting us with funds for pet supplies, cages or transportation, we would very much like to hear from you, in order to keep the program running into the future for even more families.
Thanks to all who have supported this endeavor to date and I wish everyone a very happy and safe summer.
Tess Gordey, MSW, RSW