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Shelter for animals of domestic violence victims coming to Reno

Many perpetrators of domestic violence don’t limit their assaults to their spouse or significant others. Often they harm their victims’ beloved pets to further torture their victims or get them to return home if they do leave. The director of one Las Vegas shelter says she’s heard gruesome stories of how “abusers leveraged the pet against (the victim).”

People remain in abusive relationships for a number of reasons. One of those is fear of what will happen to their pets if they leave. Only 3 percent of all shelters for victims of domestic violence nationwide accept pets.

Advocates for these victims in Nevada are working to change that. Nine years ago, Las Vegas’s Shade Tree Shelter started Noah’s Animal House. It’s a shelter that cares for the pets of domestic violence victims.

As word got out to emergency hotlines and law enforcement about Noah’s Animal House, police began bringing in victims and their pets together. That saved potentially-dangerous returns home to collect their animal or the need for a police escort to do that.

Now Noah’s Animal House, in partnership with the Committee to Aid Abused Women shelter in Reno, is working to raise funds to build a pet shelter here so that people in northern Nevada can have the same reassurance that their pets are safe if they leave their abusers.

The director of Noah’s Animal House says that she’s seen the difference that knowing that their pet is safe and having that pet nearby for much-needed comfort makes for domestic violence victims. She says, “There’s no better healing than having your pet as emotional support.” The head of the Shade Tree Shelter also notes that they’ve seen fewer victims (just 1 percent) returning to their abusers when they have their pets nearby.

Victims of domestic violence who seek the help of an attorney to get a restraining order or take other steps to protect themselves can also seek protection for their pets. Further, animal abusers can face felony charges for their actions.

Source: Reno Gazette-Journal, “New pet shelter will open for victims of domestic violence in Northern Nevada,” Mike Higdon, Sep. 14, 2016

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