A grant from the Shuswap Community Foundation will make a big difference for the many woman fleeing abuse who have pets.
When BC Housing mandated in 2018 that women with pets be accommodated in transition houses, the SAFE Society prepared and opened a pet room in the Salmon Arm transition house, which has been in high demand since.
Soon after, working in consultation with the SPCA, the Pet Shelter for Families Impacted by Violence or Trauma project was begun.
The SAFE Society applied to the Shuswap Community Foundation (SCF) for funds for the project.
In a news release, SCF stated that the application met requirements in three important areas: animal welfare, health and wellness, and social equity.
A grant for $45,000 to help build the pet shelter was awarded to the SAFE Society on April 7. Thirty-two individual endowments provided contributions to the largest grant the foundation has disbursed.
In the past, the Shuswap SPCA has provided compassionate boarding at no cost to the society, which will continue if the need arises. However, having easy access to pets will keep both animals and families impacted by domestic violence safer while improving eventual outcomes.
Jane Shirley, executive director of the SAFE Society, said the society feels extremely privileged to receive the grant supporting the transition house program to build the pet shelter that will help reduce barriers to those impacted by violence.
She said the Pet Shelter Project will allow the transition house to offer shelter to families’ pets in situations where a woman may otherwise choose to stay in an abusive situation or return to one because there is no safe space for their animal.
“Animal abuse and domestic violence are strongly linked, with abusers often using family pets to keep victims in fear, to punish the victim, silence the victim, and eliminate a source of comfort and support, or a rival for affection.”
Shirley said it’s also known that those who abuse animals are more likely to abuse humans, and that witnessing violence towards animals can have adverse effects on children.
“Thank you SCF and SAFE Society supporters for making this happen in our community!” Shirley said.
The news release stated that the pet shelter will feature three indoor, heated and cooled dog kennels with access to an outdoor run for each dog and a separate potty area. The pet shelter will allow clients to access and look after the dogs themselves. It will include a wash sink, storage space for food and pet items, a perimeter fence for security, and an additional storage room that could become a cat room in the future. In the meantime, cats and other small pets such as gerbils and rabbits will continue to be accommodated in the main house.