Story by: David Chasanov
SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Rescue One and the Greene County Family Justice Center have teamed up to create a new program. The program would be part of a new facility that Rescue One is hoping to build.
The two non-profits are teaming up in hopes that the new program will help protect domestic violence victims and their pets.
“I’ve seen nationwide studies that say upwards of 70 percent of survivors of domestic violence fear leaving pets behind. It’s very, very common,” said Jamie Willis, project coordinator for the Greene County Family Justice Center. “Abusers will frequently threaten those pets to keep some in a relationship and occasionally they’ll either harm or even sometimes kill family pets to punish victims.”
When pet owners are trying to find safety but are afraid of leaving their pet behind that can prevent someone from getting help.
“It’s not rare at all for our clients that can’t find shelter to stay in their cars,” said Willis. “It creates a risk of homelessness because most shelters cannot take pets. That’s one of the places that our services are lacing is finding a safe p[place for that pet to go so that the survivor can get the help that they need.”
Luckily, the Greene County Justice Center and Rescue One are hoping their program will prevent these types of situations.
“We hold the dog, we care for the dog, it will be fully vetted while it’s in our care while you’re getting yourself safe and set up through the center,” said Ellen Dowdy, president of Rescue One. “These women shouldn’t have to be choosing between their safety and well-being and their animals. Why can’t you just do both?”
Dowdy said domestic violence involving pets happens all the time.
“We’ve had a lot of people contact us over the years to do temporary care, and we weren’t set up liability wise,” said Dowdy. ” People would ultimately have to surrender their animal to us so they could get out of a bad situation.”
To stop this from happening pets would be fostered in the program until the situation improved.
“It will be confidential,” said Dowdy. “They won’t know any of the information and won’t share the animals on social media at all.”
“It’ll be a slow start but we’re hoping that as they expand their program and we find more ways to efficiently partner that we’ll be able to help additional victims,” said Willis.
Rescue One explained, not only would a new facility make this program possible but would help the organization put many of its services under one roof.