Lack of pet-friendly domestic violence shelters critical barrier for victims with pets

(BPT) - An estimated 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime. Escaping abusive situations and starting over in a new and safe environment is an overwhelming experience for victims, especially when pets are involved. An added challenge is that very few (approximately 10 percent) domestic violence shelters in the U.S. currently accept and house pets. This leaves abuse victims with a difficult decision — flee to safety but leave their pet behind or stay with their abuser? Almost half of domestic violence victims choose to stay in an abusive situation out of fear of what might happen to their pet if they leave.

As those who live with pets can attest, pets do so much for their humans — they provide unconditional love and comfort, they demonstrate loyalty and devotion, and they teach people about care and compassion. Pets can also sense when their owners experience sadness or pain, and their physical presence can provide comfort and promote healing. In essence, pets and people are better together.