Grant helps shelter pets from domestic abuse

Valley Oak SPCA gets $20,000 to fund unique partnership with Family Services of Tulare County

TULARE COUNTY – People are not the only species affected by domestic violence. Four-legged family members are also victims in abusive households.

As many as 71% of pet-owning women entering domestic violence shelters report their abuser injured, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or psychological control, according to research conducted by Dr. Frank Ascione, executive director of the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at the University of Denver (DU) Graduate School of Social Works. Additionally, up to 48% of domestic violence victims reported delaying leaving their abusers because they feared what would happen to their pets.

“The link between domestic violence and animal abuse is undeniable,” said Nicole Forsyth, president and CEO of RedRover, a nonprofit dedicated to rescuing animals in crisis. “Too often, survivors will not leave an abusive relationship if they cannot find a domestic violence shelter that accepts pets. Our grants allow these shelters to create pet-friendly spaces so that no one ever has to choose between their safety and their pet.”

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Valley Oak SPCA rescued this dog along with seven others from a local home.Photo courtesy of Valley Oak SPCA

Earlier this month, RedRover awarded $80,000 in the second round of its Safe Housing Shelter program, including $20,000 to the Valley Oak SPCA in Tulare County, as well as shelters in Arizona, Indiana and Florida. The grants not only enable domestic violence shelters to create on- and off-site space to house pets, they also allow animal shelters to build dedicated housing for animal victims of abuse. Of the 14 grants awarded, six are RedRover + Purina Purple Leash Project grants, an extension of RedRover’s Safe Housing program.

“Valley Oak SPCA is extremely grateful to RedRover for helping us reach our goal of providing housing for displaced animals,” executive director Lydia House said. “We are lucky to partner with Family Services of Tulare County in this vital assistance for victims of domestic violence and their pets. This groundbreaking program is the first of its kind in California’s Central Valley. The RedRover Safe Housing grant will help us build safe, temporary housing for both cats and dogs in our new facility.”

The awards were part of nearly $250,000 in grant funding this year. Since the program’s inception in 2012, RedRover has given 138 grants in 41 states, totaling more than $1.5 million. Additionally, the Safe Housing grants have created the first pet-friendly domestic violence shelters in nine states. The program’s goal is to have at least one pet-friendly domestic violence shelter in each state. Now, only Hawaii and Rhode Island are the last remaining states that have no pet-friendly domestic violence shelters. For a complete list of RedRover programs that help domestic violence victims escape abusive situations with their pets, visit redrover.org/relief.

Deadlines to apply for Safe Housing and Purple Leash Project grants are May 15 and October 15 each year. To learn more, visit: redrover.org/SafeHousing.

Since 1987, RedRover has focused on bringing animals out of crisis and strengthening the human-animal bond through emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance, and education. For the fifth consecutive year, RedRover has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. To learn how RedRover is creating a more compassionate world, visit RedRover.org.

Valley Oak SPCA continues to play an active role in finding safe homes for animals in need. More recently, they have been working to find homes for six pit bulls and a Dogo Argentino who were involved in a hoarding situation. They belonged to an elderly man in Goshen who passed away in early November. According to his family, he would collect stray dogs as they roamed around the city and most of the dogs were placed on chains around his house. They were fed well but needed medical attention which is where Valley Oak comes in.

“It’s important for the community to understand what we’re doing because there’s thousands of dollars in medical care that go into these dogs and we run off of donations. When we take in a big load like this, we’re just dumping tons of money into them” House said.

Once the dogs get trained for basic obedience commands, they will be up for adoption. For people that want to learn more about adopting the adopting process at Valley Oak SPCA, visit vospca.org/appointments to schedule an appointment to adopt.

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