The decision to leave an abusive relationship comes with lots of variables: children, money, housing — there are lots of concerns on how to survive getting out. Three organizations in Minot are partnering to make one issue a little easier: how to get out of a toxic situation without leaving a pet behind.
“It’s nice to be able to help not only the humans in this situation but the animals,” said Meghan von Behren, executive director of YWCA.
Eighty-nine percent of women who are in an abusive relationship said their animals were threatened, harmed or killed by their abusive partner, according to the animal legal defense fund.
The YWCA, Domestic Violence Crisis Center and Souris Valley Animal Shelter recognized a need three years ago to help these women feel more confident in leaving their homes. Emergency pet housing was established.
“There’s a lot of situations where they won’t leave because they don’t have a place for that pet to go also. In order to be able to take care of that pet and the person with the partnership with the organizations, it just allows them to be able to leave a bad situation much easier,” said Kasey Breuer, assistant director shelter operations at SVAS.
“These animals are going to be safe for those women who are trying to better themselves and allows more people to be confident that they can get the help they need,” said von Behren.
So how does it work? Women can get in touch with the organizations beforehand to get the animal to the shelter. But, if it’s a last-minute decision and they can’t set it up, they don’t have to worry.
“So if it’s something that’s happening late at night or when they (SVAS) are closed, we are able to utilize the extra cages here that they’ve provided for us. We just kind of make it work in our space and then get ahold of their team and as soon as we can get the animal over we get it over,” said Jill McDonald, executive director of DVCC.
“If they are in crisis mode, they’re in desperation and they show up at our door with their selves and the pet, we’re not going to turn them away. We are going to figure out how to either provide the transportation, get them over, or partner with the animal shelter to get that dog or cat safely in their care,” von Behren said.
And it doesn’t cost the victim a dime. Everything is paid for by the animal shelter. The victim can visit their pet as often as they can.
“Even if they don’t think that where they’re at that someone cares, there’s definitely people in the community that can care for them even if they’ve never met them,” said Breuer.
Around 115 women utilize this service every year.
SVAS has recently started offering emergency pet housing to people who are going through recovery programs.