Victims of domestic abuse may have one less reason not to leave their batterers thanks to a new initiative between the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and The Safe Center LI which provides shelter to humans. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, approximately 71% of victims entering domestic violence shelters report that their abusers have either threatened to or actually hurt and/or killed the family pets in retaliation of the victims’ leaving, or to prevent them from doing so in the first place. As a result many violence sufferers are reluctant to seek shelter for fear of what will become of their animals once they do seek escape fore themselves.
“Staying with an abuser puts every human and nonhuman animal in the family at risk,” stated Sandy Oliva, co-executive of Safe Center, a non-profit facility that provides services for those who have undergone sexual or physical violence. The Center is currently only able to house about 15 people at a time. While they are there, the SPCA will “bear” the cost of taking care of the animals (estimated to be about $30 a day per pet), and will take them to a private location for veterinary care and boarding. Once the victim leaves The Safe Center they will have the option to either take their pet(s) back or put them up for adoption through the SPCA. For more information, domestic violence victims can call the Safe Center hotline at 516 542-0404.
It should be noted that the Suffolk County (Long Island) Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has operated a similar program since 2000 which provides temporary housing for pets from domestic violence households while their owners are in shelters. To learn more about this program readers can contact the Suffolk County SPCA at 631 382-7722.