The emotional turmoil that comes with fleeing from an abusive situation is undoubtedly gut-wrenching for the victims and their families. That load will now be a little lighter for the pet-loving residents of the Cooper's House
Last week, the Domestic Violence Intervention Program
announced the addition of a boarding facility for dogs and cats on the property. Construction is expected to be completed by July.
Missie Forbes, the developmental director for DVIP told The Gazette
that a shocking 48% of domestic abuse victims with pets refuse to leave, or delay leaving in order to keep their pets safe. She stated that abusers will use threats against their victims' beloved pets in order to control them. The option to have their pets on site will help to alleviate this concern.
DVIP already offers a fostering program that places dogs, cats and even exotic pets into safe homes while abuse victims are living at Cooper's House. The new pet facility will consist of 3 indoor dog kennels, a fenced dog run, and an indoor cat haven designed to house about 12 felines at a time. Forbes anticipates that roughly 15 to 20 pets per year will seek refuge with their families at Cooper's House.
The cost of the new pet program is estimated to be about $30,000 per year. $6,000 will be covered by a grant from a nationwide initiative known as the RedRover Program
. The goal of the initiative is to help establish at least one domestic violence shelter with an on-site kennel in each state. Cooper's House will also receive assistance from the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center
and local pet store, Leash on Life
In addition to the kennels and cat sanctuary, the DVIP currently has a Golden Retriever in training as a therapy dog. Once trained, she will provide emotional support for victims and their children at Cooper's House and in their outreach program. They also plan to add a part-time pet therapist to the staff this summer to support abused animals.
Forbes believes the new pet facilities will provide much needed emotional relief to victims of domestic violence.
Adding something like this is an innovative program. It’s just one more way to assist our clients to be able to live a productive life free of fear of any sort of safety issues. It’s just one more way we are fulfilling our mission.
Donations to help defray the annual costs of the DVIP pet program are warmly appreciated and may be made through their website
H/T to The Gazette
Featured Image via @Mar_Guz/Instagram