Pets over Persons: SAVE Calls on Abuse Shelters to Re-Examine Priorities
Washington, DC/August 9, 2012 — The domestic violence industry is devoting scarce resources to sheltering pets rather than helping victims. In an era when victims are increasingly being turned away, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), a victim-advocacy organization, calls on domestic violence organizations to give first priority to helping actual victims.
As Congress continues to debate renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, cases of the prioritization of pets over humans illustrate the controversial focus of some VAWA-funded service providers.
In Florida, for example, abuse shelters turned away more than 3,000 women last year because of funding cuts (1). But the Harbor House in Orlando is currently building a 1,500 square-foot state-of-the-art kennel. A similar facility at a Jacksonville shelter has been used by only six animals per year since its opening in 2007.
Victims should be allowed to bring their pets into shelters and housed inside a kennel in an unused area of the shelter. But in time of budget cuts and staff layoffs, spending thousands of dollars on dedicated facilities makes no sense, SAVE says.
SAVE has previously reported on the drift of some abuse shelters away from a focus on healing victims and their families, to a preoccupation with teaching women they are victims of patriarchal oppression (2).
“It is unacceptable that each day victims are being turned away from abuse shelters because they lack funding, while at the same time money is being spent on facilities for dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils, and birds,” SAVE spokesman Philip W. Cook explains. “Congress must reauthorize VAWA with oversight provisions to ensure that all true victims receive the assistance they are due.”
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to partner violence: www.saveservices.org.