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Support Safe Harbor: helping domestic violence victims helps their pets

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Domestic violence kills. Abusers kill people, including children, and also kill beloved pets that belong to the victim. You can help fight domestic violence and have a good time and good food in a number of upcoming events to benefit Safe Harbor here in Oconee County. These events include Mayberry days on May 3, Jazz on the Alley on May 22, and Zaxby's night on May 29.

Wait a minute. Why is this article in the Pets section of Examiner? The answer is simple. Pets are injured and killed every day by perpetrators of domestic violence.

The headlines are ugly. A Youngstown, Ohio dog named Gabby, a small Maltese, is beaten to death with two bricks in the middle of a domestic violence attack that also injures her owner.

Sometimes the pets are not injured, but are the collateral damage of domestic violence. An Oconee County, SC woman in January 2013 was found dead in her yard, shot by her husband who then committed suicide. The family and the community scrambled to save the 20 cats and four dogs left behind.

Other times the victim is coerced to remain in an abuse situation because the abuser threatens to kill or injure their pets. In fact, one of the questions on the Safe Harbor checklist that can help a person assess whether they are in an abusive relationship, lists "Mistreat pets or children" as one of the indicators of domestic violence.

According to Safe Harbor, fear is the number one reason why an abused person does not just leave the situation, and quite often they fear, with justification, that their abuser may harm their pets if they try to leave.

Unfortunately for most, remaining in the situation is no guarantee of safety for the victim, or for the victim's children or pets. It's important for those impacted by domestic violence to know that there is help available for them here in Oconee County.

Safe Harbor will soon be opening their shelter here in Oconee County, and needs the help of the community to help protect not just the human victims of domestic violence, but also their companion animals.

There are many opportunities to help.

On May 3, all proceeds from Aunt Bea's Picnic Chicken Lunch at the Westminster Depot as part of the Mayberry Days event, will benefit Safe Harbor. Chicken plates include sides, dessert, and sweet tea for $8.

A Housewarming Shower for the Oconee shelter will be held Saturday morning, May 17 at St. Mark United Methodist Church in Seneca. The organization invites the community to check their gift registries at various stores for a list of items the shelter needs. More information on the shower is on their website, or to make a donation please call 864-385-7181 or susanspitzer@safeharborsc.org.

If you like jazz, you'll definitely want to be at Jazz on the Alley on Thursday, May 22, when Safe Harbor will hold it's annual silent auction to benefit the fight against domestic abuse.

Another way to help is by eating dinner at Zaxby's in Seneca the evening of May 29, between 5 and 8 pm. A percentage of your purchase will go to a non-profit organization, Safe Harbor, that fights domestic violence in Oconee County, and Zaxby's will match that donation. In the last year, nearly $6,000 has been raised in five of these events.

For more information on how you can help, please visit the Safe Harbor website at www.safeharborsc.org.

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