Washington, D.C. (December 21, 2018) — (December 21, 2018) – A group of nonprofit and for-profit organizations lauded the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the Farm Bill) after advocating for legislation to better protect domestic violence survivors by establishing the critical importance of protecting their pets, too. With the inclusion of key elements of the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act (H.R. 909, S.322) in the Farm Bill, Congress took an essential step in removing a roadblock to the safety of these survivors with pets.
“Thanks to bipartisan passage of the PAWS Act by Congress, more domestic violence shelters will allow survivors of abuse to heal with the love and support of their beloved pets,” said Nina Leigh Krueger, President of Purina. “This is an important milestone in the coalition’s collective efforts to create safer communities for pets and pet owners, and Purina will remain steadfast in our commitment to keeping pets and people together, particularly during times of crisis.”
This provision of the Farm Bill establishes grants for domestic violence shelters to carry out programs to provide emergency and transitional shelter and housing assistance or short-term shelter and housing assistance for domestic violence victims with pets, service animals, emotional support animals, or horses. Grants awarded may also be used for programs that provide support services designed to enable someone fleeing domestic violence to locate and secure safe housing with their pet, safe accommodations for their pet, or related services such as transportation and other assistance.
The PAWS Act Coalition would like to thank the original co-sponsors of the Pet and Women Safety Act for their leadership and commitment to its passage, especially the lead sponsors Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA-5), Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV). The Coalition is also particularly grateful for Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) for spearheading the effort to pass the bill by including its language in the Farm Bill.
“No one should have to make the choice between finding safety and staying in a violent situation to protect their pet,” said Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA-5). “This law empowers survivors with the resources to leave a dangerous situation while being able to continue to care for their pet. I’m grateful for the partnerships we’ve formed between organizations working to end both domestic violence and animal abuse. Together, we will help save lives.”
“The PAWS Act Coalition looks forward to working with federal agencies to support implementation of this new law and to helping raise awareness of this important legislation among the domestic violence shelter and pet care communities,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI). “Our work is far from over, but this victory is the momentum needed towards real, life-saving change for domestic violence survivors and the pets that bring them so much joy and comfort.”
Organizations in the PAWS Act coalition include:
- Purina (Nestlé 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.
Did you know?
- Up to 65% of domestic violence victims remain in abusive situations out of fear for their pets’ safety.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control, 4,774,000 women in the United States experience physical violence by an intimate partner every year.
- 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.
- A growing body of science has demonstrated a link between domestic violence and animal cruelty. An outlet of emotional support for victims, the family pet often becomes a target for physical abuse.
“As we’ve seen throughout the past five years of running URI’s PALS (People and Animals Living Safely) Program, abusers often threaten to harm or inflict violence on a pet in order to control their victims,” said Nathaniel Fields, President and CEO of URI. “Not only do pet-friendly domestic violence shelters provide a critical avenue for escape, but they also channel the healing power of the human-pet bond during times of crisis and transition. The passage of the Farm Bill is an exciting milestone in this coalition’s work to ensure that all individuals facing abuse and their beloved pets can live the safest, fullest lives possible.”
“Since 2007, Noah’s Animal House has cared for over 1,400 pets of domestic violence victims from 21 states across the U.S, in addition to our home state of Nevada. Women drove thousands of miles from Florida, Oklahoma, Maine, Texas and others, driving past other women’s shelters in every state for one reason only – their pet had to be included in their escape plan” stated Staci Columbo Alonso, founder of Noah’s Animal House. “With the passing of the PAWS Act, more local women’s shelters can become pet friendly.”
“Survivors of domestic violence should not have to choose between their safety and a loved one,” said Lauren Dorsch, Deputy Director, Communications, Bayer Animal Health, “and this legislation is an important move toward supporting shelters in their efforts to provide a safe place for survivors to heal without saying goodbye to their pets.”
“In support of the PAWS Act Coalition, Pet Partners grassroots advocates made their voices heard during every step of the legislative process – recruiting key co-sponsors in the Senate, supporting passage of the Senate Farm Bill, targeting members of the Conference Committee, and building support in communities across the country. Thanks to their efforts, many thousands of constituent messages, tweets, and phone calls to Congress were made emphasizing the importance of these provisions. Pet Partners is grateful for their actions that will help pets and people remain together in traumatic situations – when they need each other most,” said Annie Peters, CEO of Pet Partners.
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.
Bayer: Science For A Better Life
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of health care and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the Group aims to create value through innovation, growth and high earning power. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its social and ethical responsibilities as a corporate citizen. In fiscal 2017, the Group employed around 99,800 people and had sales of EUR 35.0 billion. Capital expenditures amounted to EUR 2.4 billion, R&D expenses to EUR 4.5 billion. For more information, go to www.bayer.us.
About Pet Partners
Pet Partners, formerly known as the Delta Society, is the national leader in demonstrating and promoting the health and wellness benefits of animal-assisted therapy, activities, and education. Since the organization’s inception in 1977, the science proving these benefits has become indisputable. With more than 13,000 registered teams making more than 3 million visits annually, Pet Partners serves as the nation’s largest and most prestigious nonprofit registering handlers of multiple species as volunteer teams. Pet Partners teams visit with patients in recovery, people with intellectual disabilities, seniors living with Alzheimer’s, students, veterans with PTSD, and those approaching end of life, improving human health and wellbeing through the human-animal bond. With the recent release of its Standards of Practice for Animal-Assisted Interventions and international expansion, Pet Partners is globally recognized as the industry gold standard. For more information on Pet Partners, visit www.petpartners.org.
About the 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 merged with the Center Against Domestic Violence in 2018, the first licensed provider of domestic violence shelter in New York. With nearly 80 years of combined experience, the organization is 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. For more information, please visit www.urinyc.org.
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 http://www.noahsanimalhouse.org.
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 http://www.habri.org.
More Press Releases
Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) Shareable Infographic: Top 5 Health Benefits of Cat Ownership
In celebration of National Cat Day, the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) has created a shareable infographic on the health benefits of cat ownership. The infographic, “Top 5 Benefits of Cat Ownership”, highlights the research supporting the health benefits of cats for people of all ages. Approximately 43 million American households include a pet cat, with many households owning more than one[i], making them the second most popular pet by household, behind dogs. Scientific research demonstrates that cat ownership can confer benefits to both mental and physical health in their owners. Specifically, cat ownership can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and improve heart health, alleviate social isolation and loneliness, and reduce stress. In children, living with cats can strengthen immunity in the first year of life, and a pet cat can help those with autism and their families. HABRI hopes that in sharing this infographic far and wide, we can raise awareness of the benefits of cat ownership and to strengthen human-cat bonds everywhere. This infographic is part of an ongoing series to help share human-animal bond research and the message that pets enrich our lives, in good times and in bad. Earlier this year, HABRI released the “Can Pets Help You Live Longer?“, the “Top 5 Mental Health Benefits of Pets” and the “Top Benefits of the Human-Animal Bond” infographics. i. American Pet Products Association’s 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey
New Research to Study Impact of a Service Dog Training Program for Children with Autism and their Families
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced funding for a new research project to evaluate the impact of a service dog training program and service dog matching on autistic children and their families. This grant was awarded to Gretchen Carlisle, Ph.D., at the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction, University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. One in 44 children in the United States is estimated to be born with autism spectrum disorder. Autistic children may have differences in social interaction and communication, and may also struggle with comorbid conditions such as anxiety. Behavioral care and supportive interventions are key to aiding autistic children and their families. Scientific research demonstrates the benefits of dog ownership for autistic children and their families can include increased social skills and reduced family stress, yet there is a lack of research on the potential benefits of service dogs for this population. “Service dogs represent a relatively new yet increasingly popular approach for assisting families that include an autistic child,” said the study’s Principal Investigator, Dr. Carlisle. “This research will further our understanding of the impact of these dogs on the health and wellbeing of autistic children and their families.” Preliminary research conducted by Dr. Carlisle highlights the importance of families viewing their pet dogs as a good match with their children, for the families to experience benefits. Service dogs, with a high level of training and predictable calm temperament, are theorized to be more likely to be accepted as a good match by a family that includes an autistic child. This study will use a cross-sectional survey of parents of autistic children. Data collected will be used to compare those who are on a waitlist to receive a service dog, those who are in the training process to be matched with a service dog, and those who are already matched with a service dog. A longitudinal...
New Research Says Therapy Dogs Are OK!
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today the publication of a study exploring the impacts of therapy dog sessions on the welfare of the dogs involved. Conducted by researchers at American Humane, findings of the study demonstrate that dogs did not show increased stress resulting from the therapy visits. Funded by HABRI and Zoetis, American Humane’s newly-released “Canines and Childhood Cancer Study,” is one of the largest human-animal bond studies focusing on the impact of animal-assisted interaction (AAI) on children with cancer and their parents, as well as the participating therapy dogs. “Results of this study demonstrate that dogs did not show increased behavioral or physiological stress, indicating that placing therapy dogs in this type of therapeutic setting does not cause undue stress to the animals,” said Amy McCullough, PhD and Principal Investigator, American Humane. “This research will help American Humane, HABRI and practitioners in the field to maintain the highest standards of animal welfare.” “This research project is important because now we have strong evidence that, with proper training and handling, the welfare of therapy animals in hospital settings is not adversely impacted,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “As more animals are deployed to help hospital patients, we can be confident that the dogs are OK!” Dr. McCullough, along with Ashleigh Ruehrdanz, MPH and Molly Jenkins, MSW of American Humane, supervised data collection on participating handler-dog teams at five children’s hospitals across the United States. The objective of the study in regard to participating canines was to determine the stress levels of therapy dogs during regular AAI sessions with pediatric oncology patients and their families. The research team videotaped each animal-assisted therapy session and coded the dogs’ behavior using an ethogram developed to capture affiliative and stress-related behaviors. The frequency...