November 29, 2010; Source: OregonLive.com | There’s an interesting experiment under way in Oregon and a handful of other states to see if sheltering domestic and animal abuse victims in the same facilities can cut down on both kinds of violence. The Oregonian describes how officials in one Oregon county—drawing on research that shows that animal abuse often signals that “humans in the household will be at risk”—helped form a partnership between a domestic violence and animal shelter to allow women seeking refuge to bring their pets with them.
“Many fear leaving their pet behind because it becomes a target of abuse as a way to hurt the victim,” said a Donna Burgess, executive director of the Domestic Violence Resource Center, which runs Monika’s House, Washington County’s only domestic violence shelter. “We certainly know that’s a really big issue.”
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According to the Oregonian, Monika’s House is one of three shelters in Oregon and just one of 35 out of 2000 nationwide that allows pets. Monika’s House is working with Fences for Fido, a nonprofit animal protection group, to build dog runs outside the shelter. The shelter plans to have five kennel areas for dogs and six spaces for cats or other small animals. In addition to providing a safe haven for domestic violence victims and their pets, the effort is helping raise awareness among law enforcement about the links between human and animal abuse.
“It’s just another tool to put in the toolbox for the next call you go on,” said Sgt. Neil Stellingwerf of the Beaverton Police Department. “This is just another thing, another awareness that helps us become better at identifying and prosecuting these kinds of crimes.”—Bruce Trachtenberg