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Why 1 in 3 domestic violence victims wont leave their abuser
One-third of domestic abuse victims don't leave their abuser because they're concerned for their pet. But there are efforts being made to help them. - photo by Herb Scribner
One-third of domestic violence victims wont leave their abuser because they dont want to leave their pets behind, according to a new report from The Humane Society. Some 25 percent of domestic violence victims returned to their abuser because they were concerned for their pets well-being, The Humane Society reported.

Sadly, domestic violence is something one in every four women will experience at some point in their lives, Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) said in a press release. This isolating experience is made even worse for those who fear for the safety of their pet. Most pet lovers, including me, consider their beloved dog or cat a part of their family.

Domestic abuse towards animals has been a growing concern for women, according to the National Link Coalition. More than 70 percent of domestic abuse victims have seen their pet harmed by their abuser, the coalition added.

This has caused some women, who are often taking care of pets, to stay with their abusers and avoid some domestic violence shelters, according to the National Link Coalition. For those with pets who leave their abuser, there isnt often a place to go three percent of domestic violence shelters also accommodate animals, according to The Humane Society.

Efforts are being made to address this issue through the help of pet charities and policymakers, like Clark. Both have advocated for the passage of a bipartisan bill which aims to give more funding to domestic violence victim shelters. The bill, the Pets And Women Safety (PAWS) Act of 2015, would create a federal grant that specifically assists pets of domestic abuse victims to find shelter.

The Sojourner Center in Phoenix wants to be one of those domestic violence shelters, according to The Arizona Republic. And PetSmart, a national retail store for pet owners, has donated $50,000 to the shelter to help make that happen.

"We have seen too many women make the heartbreaking decision between leaving a dangerous situation at home and giving up their pet or remaining in an unsafe situation," Maria Garay, Sojourner Centers CEO, told The Arizona Republic.

Jill Schilp, who is a coordinator for A New Leash on Life Therapy Dog Group, wrote for the Dallas Morning News that the PAWS Act is a good first step in finding help for domestic abuse victims and their pets.

Schilp wrote that more efforts can be made by communities to help pets find safety when theyre in domestic violence situations. She wrote that identifying pet abuse may also be an indicator of domestic violence happening in the home.

Schilp wrote that concern for pets and their safety can bring community members and policymakers together to help domestic abuse victims and their pets find solace and safety.

The issue of pet abuse, cruelty and neglect is complex and multidimensional. Pet abuse and domestic violence are hard issues, but we cant look away. Its time for more discussion in our communities about how to help, Schilp wrote. The good news is that concerned communities and neighbors can work together to help before its too late for animals and human victims of violence.
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