October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Violence is not limited to people, and pets are often threatened or injured by a partner as a way to control family members. Studies show that 71 % of battered women reported their pets had been threatened, harmed or killed by their partners. As many as one-third of domestic violence victims delay leaving their situation out of concern for their pet’s safety. Pets are true friends to us, to our children, and a comfort during a traumatic situation. It is our responsibility to protect them, and to assist the victims who, due to unfortunate circumstances, need our help. Last December, the provisions of the Pet and Women Safety Act (PAWS) was signed. The PAWS Act established a grant program for shelters and housing assistance programs to better meet the housing needs of domestic violence survivors with pets. The new law also takes important steps to include pets under protection order violations (PFA), and restitution. More information on this act can be found at awionline.org

Here in Lancaster County, there is a program in place through the Domestic Violence Services called Safe Pets. Safe Pets helps to coordinate confidential, temporary foster homes for pets while a victim of abuse is leaving the home and does not have an alternative caretaker for the pet. Safe Pets also provides assistance and planning to people who are thinking of leaving an abusive home with a pet, ensuring the pet has everything it needs, and coordinating the most suitable temporary home. Safe Pets is looking for volunteer foster homes to provide temporary safe havens until the pet is able to be returned to its family. Please contact Deb Hewes at 717-299-9677 for information regarding fostering or donations. This number is also a direct number to the Domestic Violence Services if ever needed for yourself or a friend.

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