SpringHaven, Inc. Domestic Violence Program (SpringHaven) and Friends of Hardin County Animal Shelter (FOHCAS) are partnering to provide resources for domestic violence survivors who face the choice of leaving a pet with an abuser or trying to find a shelter that will house a pet.
SpringHaven’s mission is to educate communities, advocate for social change and empower victims of domestic violence. The mission of Friends of Hardin County Animal Shelter intersects with that of SpringHaven as both work toward a more compassionate community where the voiceless have a voice. Research shows that an abuser’s pattern of violence often includes all members of a household, including children and pets. When domestic violence survivors seek to flee their abusers, many are faced with the challenge of finding shelter for not only themselves, but for their children and pets as well. Many shelters do not have the means to house companion animals. This can lead survivors to stay in an abusive home or face threats to their animal by the abuser.
The new initiative between SpringHaven and FOHCAS will engage community resources to provide an option for domestic abuse survivors with pets. The idea was sparked by someone who knows too well the situation that these survivors face.
“I'm a domestic violence survivor. I did not leave because I did not want to leave my two cats,” says Erin Burke, who has been in the role of Animal Advocate at SpringHaven for about a month. “I always said that one day my struggles would benefit people in some capacity; so, once an advocate position came available at SpringHaven, I knew it was my calling.”
As Animal Advocate, Burke says her role is to be the bridge between the domestic violence shelter and the animal needs which can include anything from temporary placement of the pet, to basic supplies like food and litter, to vet care. Ultimately, Burke’s goal is for SpringHaven to be a pet-friendly shelter. “We can immediately accept cats in our shelter, but it will take some time to accept dogs at SpringHaven. In the meantime, we have a community of fosters and other supporters who are eager to assist in providing safe, temporary housing for the dog while the resident is staying with us.”
“FOHCAS’ role will be to work with Erin to secure the needed resources,” says FOHCAS board chair Myra Covault. “For many survivors, it is critical to them to get their pets to safety – and we are excited to bring together our network of supporters to help them do that.”
While this new initiative is still in the planning stage, both groups are working to have a framework in place in January. Burke understands the urgency better than most. “Pets can help a survivor’s healing,” she says, “mine helped me.”
Organizations and individuals can help with monetary, supply and in-kind donations. See above for links to list of needed items and to make a monetary donation.
Saturday, October 28 from 4-7pm at Hardin County Honda. Don't forget to vote for us so we can win money to support our mission!