The Pet and Women Safety Act (PAWS) & What you can do to Help

At Global Pet Expo last week, I attended Bayer’s annual media luncheon and was deeply touched by the work they are doing to help victims of domestic violence and their pets.

httpss://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kINAeOYNqkE&t=38s

Every 9 seconds a woman in the US is assaulted. That’s over 4 million women a year. The abuse often extends to their pets. 13% of reported animal abuse involves domestic violence. Each year, nearly one million animals are abused or killed due to domestic violence, but very few shelters offer pet care with their services. Abuse victims are forced to choose between staying in an abusive relationship and leaving their pet with the abuser. Animal abusers are 5 times more likely to abuse humans.

Nearly half of abused women stay in their abusive relationships out of concern for the welfare of their beloved pets. source: Rose Brooks Pet Shelter A choice no woman should have to make- share the Paws story and keep women and pets safe from abuse.

About PAWS

Fortunately, big steps are being taken on a national level to help victims of domestic abuse. The Pet and Women’s Safety Act or PAWS Act, (H.R. 909/S. 322) was reintroduced in February 2017 by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Dean Heller (R-NV). This bicameral, bipartisan legislation protects victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence from emotional and psychological trauma caused by violence against their pets. It also provides grant funding to programs that offer housing assistance, support services, and training for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and their families, including their pets.

The Steps Bayer is Taking to Help Women and Pets

Last year at Global Pet Expo,  we learned how Bayer supports veterans with PTSD and rescue dogs through K9s For Warriors. As part of their continuing commitment to promoting the health and well-being of people and pets, Bayer Animal Health is supporting domestic violence shelters across the country who acknowledge pets as part of the family that cannot be left behind.

“We recognize the great need to support all survivors of domestic violence, including pets. We’re honored to partner with domestic violence shelters that work to meet this need. By raising awareness of the issue and the PAWS Act, we hope to help even more domestic violence shelters offer safe harbor for both people and pets.” -Lauren Dorsch, Senior Manager of Communications, Bayer Animal Health.

Photo of abuse survivors Penny & Mom May 2014

Penny and Mom

What is Noah’s Animal House?

Noah’s Animal House is a non-profit that offers a full-service pet boarding facility on the grounds of the largest women and children’s shelter in Nevada, The Shade Tree Shelter. They are receiving $20,000 from Bayer Animal Health to support the work they do to keep both pets and pet owners away from the dangers of domestic abuse.

Lori Nelson and survivor Trish Steffen speaking on behalf of Noah's Animal Shelter at Bayer Media Luncheon at Global Pet Expo

Lori and Trish speaking on behalf of Noah’s Animal House

The facility is named after Noah, the teenage son of the founder, Staci Alonso, a well-respected gaming industry executive who heard a heart-breaking story of a woman refusing to abandon her abusive life because she had to leave her kitten behind with her abuser if she wanted to escape. Knowing first hand the power pets have during the healing process, Alonso began actively fundraising for a pet boarding facility to be located on the campus of the Shade Tree Shelter in Southern Nevada. In the interim, she created a foster care program to start encouraging women and children to leave their abuser.

Photo of abuse survivor and her cat (erin nicole) 3 May 2014Noah’s Animal House will soon break ground on a second 1,300-square foot pet boarding facility in partnership with the Committee to Aid Abused Women (CAAW) in Northern Nevada, scheduled to open late-2017. Noah’s will be able to accommodate up to 36 pets on the campus of CAAW’s new transitional housing facility.

“We are humbled by the kindness and generosity of Bayer Animal Health in sharing our passion for helping survivors and their pets heal in a safe place. This generous funding comes at an exciting time, as we open a second location for Noah’s Animal House in Nevada, furthering our mission to provide the freedom necessary for survivors and their pets.”- Staci Alonso

The Results and The Power of Sharing Your Story

I was inspired by a courageous survivor of domestic violence, Trish Steffen, who spoke at the luncheon. My heart went out to her as she fought back tears telling her harrowing tale. The Noah’s Animal House shelter literally saved her life and the life of her 2 dogs and cat.  She was able to keep her pets and get her life back together. She is now thriving. Look for her full interview later this week.

Abuse survivor Trish Steffen and her gogeous dog at the Bayer Media Luncheon at Global Pet Expo

Trish and her puppy

The healing power provided by the pets during the stay at the shelter has proven to break the cycle of abuse. The recidivism rate for women staying at The Shade Tree Shelter without pets is more than 10 percent; while the return rate for women with pets is less than 2 percent.

Since 2007, NAH has helped more than 1,000 pets to stay united with their families by providing nearly 90,000 nights of safe boarding including Trish’s pets.

Other Amazing Programs Helping Victims of Violence and Abuse

As we covered in a previous a post , the URIPALS program is a similar initiative which Bayer also supports centralized in New York. URI’s programs are about supporting individuals and families and protecting the whole family from abuse at their Urban Women’s Safe Haven and Urban Women’s Retreat shelters.  The hope is to raise awareness about the impact of abuse on the entire family including pets and reduce barriers to escape and recovery. The co-sheltering model allows survivors of domestic violence to heal in a safe environment with not only their two-legged family members but also their four-legged family members.

Bayer Animal Health is also supporting the Rose Brooks Center in Kansas City Missouri in breaking the cycle of domestic violence. They welcome pets at Paws Place, a pet shelter co-located on the Rose Brooks facility.

How you can help

Visit petandwomensafety.com

To support NAH, please contact noahsanimalhouse.org 

Share the PAWS story video above and raise awareness.

Domestic violence may happen at home behind closed doors, but signs of abuse are often apparent to family, friends, and members of victims’ communities. Don’t ignore the signs — get help. Whether you are being abused, or are a witness to abuse, please call the Domestic Violence Hotline: 888-279-2211 or 888-252-2890.

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