Support. Safety. Hope. These are the three things the Humane Society of Greater Dayton along with the YWCA Dayton and the Artemis Center want to provide to people in abusive situations and their pets.
According to the Artemis Center, with mass layoffs and more than 90 percent of Americans ordered to stay home at least through April, many victims and their children are now trapped at home with their abusers while tensions run high over worries about the virus, finances and the uncertain future.
This is why initiatives such as the Safe Pet Shelter Program are even more critical right now. For 15 years, the Humane Society of Greater Dayton has worked with these two advocacy centers to support those trying to escape abusive relationships. The Safe Pet Shelter Program helps pet owners escape domestic violence situations while staying safe and keeping their pets safe, too.
“So many domestic violence victims find comfort in the love of their pets. Unfortunately, some batterers abuse animals,” said Susan Gottschalk, Family Violence Collaborative Director for the Artemis Center. “Domestic violence victims sometimes tell us they stay with their abusers because they’re afraid the abuser will harm their pets in the victim’s absence.”
“As a community, we must knock down any barrier between a victim of abuse and the help he or she needs,” said Brian Weltge, President & CEO of the Humane Society of Greater Dayton. “Through our Safe Pet Shelter Program, we are removing one of these barriers. It is our responsibility to provide pets a safe environment away from harm while also supporting those victims of abuse as they receive the help they need from our partner organizations.”
If someone is in an abusive relationship and looking for a way to get out, we encourage them to contact a local advocacy center such as the Artemis Center or a domestic violence shelter such as YWCA Dayton. The Humane Society of Greater Dayton works directly with these organization to arrange temporary housing for a pet while an individual or family works to relocate and safely move away from the abuse.
“The Safe Pet Shelter Program plays an important part in a survivor’s path to healing,” said Courtney Griffith, Director of Rural Strategy with the YWCA Dayton.” Knowing that their family pet is well-cared for allows survivors to focus on their family’s health and safety.”
Just this week, Governor DeWine stated during a press conference that child abuse numbers were reportedly lower than normal. He said this was not due to a decrease in abuse, but instead due to a decrease in the number of mandated reporters of abuse who were regularly seeing and reporting cases.
“With tensions high we must come together and protect our fellow neighbors,” said Weltge. “As the Humane Society of Greater Dayton, we care about the animals, but we also care about those people who experience abuse. Studies have proven that there is a direct correlation between animal abuse and human abuse. This is why our humane agents are mandated reporters of child abuse. We are thankful to be able to partner with the YWCA Dayton and the Artemis Center to keep our community safe. We stand together in the belief that abuse of any kind is not welcome in our community.”
If you, or someone you know, are a victim of domestic violence we encourage you to contact one of our local advocacy groups’ hotlines. You can either call the Artemis Center’s 24/7 Domestic Violence Hotline at 937-461-HELP (4357) or the YWCA Dayton’s 24/7 onsite crisis hotline at 937-222-SAFE (7233). Both organizations can provide information regarding the Pet Safe Shelter Program as well. If you witness abuse toward an animal, contact the Humane Society of Greater Dayton at 855-PETS-911 or file a report online at www.hsdayton.org/report.