New Coalition to Support Legislation Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence and Their Pets | HABRI

New Coalition to Support Legislation Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence and Their Pets

Group rallies around supporting abuse victims' needs, including health and safety of their pets

Washington, D.C. (July 23, 2018) — A group of nonprofit and for-profit organizations have joined forces to better protect domestic violence survivors by establishing, validating and promoting the criticality of protecting their pets, too. This coalition is urging passage of the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act (H.R. 909, S.322), a bill that is adamant about removing a roadblock that is essential to the safety of these survivors with pets, enabling them to live healthy, safe lives, together. Organizations in the coalition include:

  • Nestle Purina PetCare
  • Bayer Corporation
  • Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI)
  • Noah’s Animal House
  • Pet Partners
  • Urban Resource Institute

Two of these organizations, Noah’s Animal House and Urban Resource Institute are just a couple of the only 3% of domestic violence shelters across the country who are working to keep both pets and their owners away from the dangers of domestic abuse. Together these two incredible organizations have saved more than 1,500 pets from abusive conditions, so that no domestic violence survivor is forced to choose between staying in an abusive relationship and leaving their pet with their abuser.

“Up to 65% of domestic violence victims remain in abusive homes out of fear for their pet’s safety, and even more women residing in domestic violence shelters reported that a pet was harmed by their abuser,” said URI President and CEO Nathaniel Fields. “Through the Urban Resource Institute’s innovative People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) program, domestic violence survivors in New York City are able to find safe harbor with their pets in one of our dedicated shelters. PALS is the largest and only model of its kind in New York State, and this new coalition will help extend that life-saving, pet-inclusive approach to domestic violence shelters across America.”

Did you know?

  • Up to 65% of domestic violence victims remain in abusive situations out of fear for their pets’ safety[i].
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, 4,774,000 women in the United States experience physical violence by an intimate partner every year.[ii]
  • The majority of domestic violence situations include pets in the household, and 85% of women residing in domestic violence shelters reported a pet was harmed by their abuser[iii].
  • A growing body of science has demonstrated a link between domestic violence and animal cruelty[iv]. An outlet of emotional support for victims, the family pet often becomes a target for physical abuse[v].

The PAWS Act Coalition members have been working to promote awareness and encourage support for the legislation, with 247 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 37 in the Senate. There is now new momentum with the bill’s language included in the recently-passed Senate Farm Bill.

The PAWS Act Coalition is especially grateful for the efforts of Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for their leadership and commitment to pass the Pet and Women Safety Act.

“I was proud to work with my colleague Senator Gary Peters and several advocacy groups to introduce the PAWS Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would ensure victims are not forced to choose between their personal safety and the safety of their pet,” said U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV). “As the 5th most bipartisan senator in the U.S. Senate, I’ll continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to see that domestic violence survivors in Nevada and around the country have access to critical, life-saving services and programs that meet their needs and allow them to escape abuse and find safe haven.”

“For most pet owners, the bond with their pet is incredibly strong, and for people in abusive relationships, their pet can be an important source of comfort,” said Dr. Kurt Venator, DVM, PhD, Chief Veterinary Officer at Purina. “Purina is very proud to support efforts to keep families and their pets together during this time of healing.”

“Since 2007, Noah’s Animal House has cared for and protected over 1,400 pets of domestic violence survivors for 90,000 boarding nights,” said Staci Columbo-Alonso, Founder, Noah’s Animal House. “The need to provide safety and protection for the pets of these women and children is on the rise, and we are hopeful that in joining this important group of like-minded organizations, we can help more shelters across the country care for these families together.”

“Bayer recognizes the great need to support domestic violence shelters that care for both survivors and their beloved pets,” said Lauren Dorsch, Deputy Director, Communications, Bayer Animal Health. “Survivors of domestic violence should not have to choose between their safety and a loved one, and these shelters make it possible for them to heal in a safe place, without saying goodbye to their pets.”

“Pet Partners therapy animal team handlers and advocates all across the country are using their grassroots power to support the PAWS Act Coalition, so that pets and people can stick together in traumatic situations – when they need each other most,” said Annie Peters, CEO of Pet Partners.

[i] https://www.drmartybecker.com/healing-power-of-pets/people-pets-caught-domestic-violence-personal-story/

[ii] “Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Violence, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence Victimization — National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, United States, 2011” CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) September 5, 2014 / 63(SS08); 1-18. Web: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6308a1.htm?s_cid=ss6308a1_e

[iii] Ascione,F.R.,Weber,C V., Thompson,T.M.,Heath,J.,Maruyama, M.,Hayashi,K. (2007). Battered Pets and Domestic Violence: Animal Abuse Reported by Women Experiencing Intimate Violence and by Nonabused Women. Violence Against W omen,13(4),354–373.

[iv] Faver, Catherine A., and Elizabeth B. Strand. “Domestic violence and animal cruelty: Untangling the web of abuse.” Journal of Social Work Education 39.2 (2003): 237-253.

[v] Matthews, Kevin, and Kelly McConkey. “Examining the nexus between domestic violence and animal abuse in a national sample of service providers.” Violence and victims 27.2 (2012): 280.

About Nestlé Purina PetCare

Nestlé Purina PetCare promotes responsible pet care, community involvement and the positive bond between people and their pets. A premiere global manufacturer of pet products, Nestlé Purina PetCare is part of Swiss-based Nestlé S.A., a global leader in nutrition, health and wellness.

About Bayer Animal Health

Science For a Better Life: the Bayer business unit Animal Health is a global leader in animal health, supporting the health of animals, as well as the farmers, veterinarians and pet owners that care for them through its offering of innovative therapies and solutions. Responsible relationships between humans, companion animals, as well as farm animals mean taking care of their health and well-being. Bayer has secured a leadership position in researching and developing products for animal health and pest control since 1919, and is constantly developing new, better products and improved forms of administration for the benefit of the animals in our lives.

About Pet Partners

Pet Partners is the national leader in demonstrating and promoting animal-assisted therapy, activities and education. Forty-one years since the organization’s inception, the science that proves these benefits has become indisputable. Today, Pet Partners is the nation’s largest and most prestigious nonprofit registering handlers of multiple species as volunteer teams providing animal-assisted interventions. Therapy animals, such as those who participate in the Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program, provide affection and comfort to members of the public, typically in facility settings such as hospitals, assisted living, and schools. These pets have a special aptitude for interacting with members of the public and enjoy doing so. Therapy animal handlers volunteer their time to visit with their animals in the community. For more information about Pet Partners, visit www.petpartners.org

About Urban Resource Institute

Urban Resource Institute (URI) is a leading non-profit organization that provides comprehensive, holistic, and supportive social services that aid and empower New Yorkers in times of crisis. URI’s programs provide care for survivors of domestic violence, individuals with developmental disabilities, homeless families, and other at-risk populations, allowing them to live in safety and recover from trauma in both residential and non-residential settings. With deep community relationships and a flexible, innovative approach to program development and service delivery, URI is uniquely equipped to provide solutions to the challenges affecting New York City’s most vulnerable populations. URI is merging with the Center Against Domestic Violence, the first licensed provider of domestic violence shelter in New York. With nearly 80 years of combined experience, the organization will be the largest provider of domestic violence residential services in the country, with the ability to shelter over 1,000 individuals, including survivors and their families, on any given day.

About Noah’s Animal House

Noah’s Animal House was the first stand-alone full service pet boarding facility in the country built on the grounds of and in partnership with The Shade Tree Shelter in 2007 to provide safety, shelter and support for the pets of the clients of the shelter. A second location serving up to 36 animals in Reno, Nevada opened February 2018 in partnership with the Domestic Violence Resource Center.  In a national survey, 71 percent of women seeking safety in a domestic violence shelter reported pet abuse in their home and more than 25 percent delayed leaving because they did not have an escape plan that could include their pets.  To learn more about Noah’s Animal House, visit www.noahsanimalhouse.org.

About HABRI

HABRI is a not-for-profit organization that maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information; funds innovative research projects to scientifically document the health benefits of companion animals; and informs the public about human-animal bond research and the beneficial role of companion animals in society. For more information, please visit www.habri.org.

Contact

Jamie Baxter

jamie@theimpetusagency.com

775.322.4022

###

Press Releases
New Research to Study Whether Therapy Dogs Can Lower Dose of Sedation in Children Undergoing Surgery

The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) announced today it has awarded a $79,000 grant to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine for a new study, The Effect of Animal-Assisted Intervention on Preoperative Anxiety and Dose of Sedation in Children. This study will examine the effect of animal-assisted intervention (AAI) on children’s anxiety levels and sedation medication dosages prior to surgery. “The goal of this study is to determine if interaction with a therapy dog 20 minutes prior to surgery has a significant effect on reducing a child’s anxiety levels and, in turn, lowering the dose of medication necessary for sedation,” said the study’s principal investigator, Zenithson Y. Ng, DVM, MS, College of Veterinary Medicine at University of Tennessee. “The results of this study may be further used to justify and advocate for AAI in various medical situations and open doors for additional research on measurable medical outcomes associated with AAI.” The three-year, cross-over-designed study on behalf of the veterinary college’s Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences and Biomedical and Diagnostics Sciences will examine 72 children between the ages of 2 and 17 and randomly determine whether the child receives a therapy dog or an iPad tablet 20 minutes before sedation. Dr. Ng and co-investigators Julia Albright, DVM, MA and Marcy Souza, DVM, MPH, will then evaluate heart rate, blood pressure and medicine levels for sedation and compare the amounts of each group. It is expected that children provided with a therapy dog prior to surgery will have significantly lower preoperative anxiety and will require a decreased amount of medication for sedation compared to children who do not interact with a therapy dog. “Scientific research has shown that therapy dogs in hospital settings can have a calming effect, ease stress and provide reassurance to patients young and old, and to their families as well,” said HABRI Executive Director...

Press Releases
New Research to Study Effects of Service Dogs on Post 9-11 War Veterans with PTSD

The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation today announced it has awarded a $42,000 grant to Purdue University to lead a first-of-its-kind, controlled scientific study to measure the effects of service dogs on post 9-11 war veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Participants in the K9s For Warriors program, a nonprofit organization pairing war veterans with service dogs, will take part in the study. “While numerous studies have confirmed that companion animals help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has cited a lack of specific scientific evidence on the effectiveness of service animals for war veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “We are committed to addressing this gap in peer-reviewed science so that every veteran who needs a service animal can get one.” PTSD is a prevalent and debilitating disorder that, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, affects nearly 20 percent of post 9-11 war veterans. Typically triggered by intense events and situations, symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts. To explore the effect of service dogs on war veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI, the Purdue-led study will monitor the health and wellness of the K9s For Warriors participants including medical, physiological, and self-perception indicators. It is hypothesized that the veterans who have service dogs will demonstrate better health and wellness compared to those receiving other treatment services while on the waitlist for a service dog. “While there are existing PTSD treatments available for veterans, a number of them have limited effectiveness and high drop-out rates,” said Marguerite O’Haire, PhD, Purdue University. “This controlled research study will document the impact of service dogs on veterans, which may provide an effective addition...

Press Releases
New Report on Addressing the Loneliness Crisis through the Power of Pets

Mars Petcare and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), with support from a broad consortium of partners, today released a report that offers a roadmap for advancing research and best practices that address how human-animal interaction can serve as an important solution to the growing epidemic of loneliness and social isolation. “There is increasing evidence that pets can play an important role in helping people feel less lonely and more socially connected,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director, HABRI. “Together with the leadership of Mars Petcare and a group of other experts and stakeholders, HABRI will work to address the crisis of loneliness in our society with the power of the human-animal bond.” Loneliness currently affects three in five Americans[i] and 9 million people in the United Kingdom.[ii] Loneliness can be as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes per day, making it a serious threat to public health.[iii] Mars Petcare and HABRI surveyed 2,000 people in the United States, finding that 85 percent of respondents believe interaction with companion animals can help reduce loneliness.[iv] “We have a responsibility to take the scientific exploration further when evidence to date shows us that pets can be part of addressing such a significant societal issue,” commented Rena Crumplen, Global Vice President of Research and Development, Mars Petcare. “It’s important that we undertake rigorous studies to understand how companion animals may provide  a benefit for those suffering from conditions associated with social isolation and loneliness.” The new report, Addressing the Social Isolation and Loneliness Epidemic with the Power of Companion Animals, brings forward the recommendations from the Summit on Social Isolation and Companion Animals, along with the continued work of a broad consortium of human health advocates, mental health practitioners, veterinarians and human-animal interaction researchers. The report outlines the following three-pronged...

HABRI