Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pets are victims of domestic violence too

I worked at a domestic violence shelter a few years ago and once asked the director about the pets of the women who arrived in need. After all, many victims of domestic violence have been threatened with the harm or death of their dog or cat. Pets are at great risk in such instances. While not unsympathetic, the director shrugged her shoulders and said, "Well, we just don't have the facilities to care for animals too."

Since then, a lot of research has revealed a direct connection between animal and human abuse. If a woman is enduring someone who is hitting, slapping, burning or otherwise degrading her, chances are her children and the family pets are in danger as well.

And as with hurricanes, sometimes women won't leave a bad situation because they just don't want to leave the family pet behind. To many, the wrath of an abusive person is just as great as a major storm and a defenseless pet stands little to no chance of surviving if left behind.

Quigley House, a domestic violence shelter in Northeast Florida, may be one of the first in the country to finally address this matter. They've built 10 outdoor runs about 40 square feet in size to house client's pets. It's a terrific first step.

The shelter is initiating fundraising projects because they want to build another area where they can house animals not used to living outside. One of the events will be a charity poker run scheduled for December 1. There's a $10 entry fee. The ride will leave from Cracker's Lounge at 1282 Blanding Blvd. in Middleburg. To register or get more information, please call 904-272-4620 or just show up at Cracker's at 9 a.m.

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