Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pooches for Peace

Recently I was talking with someone about how domestic abuse affects every member of the family and they stopped for a moment and said, “The pets… you never think about the pets, but nothing happens in our home that they’re not part of.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. 
My pup Andy, a golden retriever, is right beside me when I cook dinner (scarfing up any morsels I drop.) He’s on the couch with his head in my lap as I’m reading. Andy’s right beside my husband’s chair when he watches a Netflix movie (freshly popped popcorn being a favorite treat of both). He lays on his doggie bed beside the piano bench as my youngest practices scales. He’s at the door wagging his tail when I put on my shoes to go for a walk. And my favorite… snuggled beside me in bed on Saturday morning, trying to tempt me to wait until the sun rises before getting up.
And in homes where family members routinely feel as if they’re walking on eggshells in fear of someone becoming angry… their pets are there too… huddled under the table… watching...listening. In homes where people regularly lash out, verbally and physically, the pets are there too. In homes where children or adults regularly cry alone, consoling themselves after an abusive outburst, their pets are beside them too. And they’re not always just on the sidelines-- far too often the abuse also directly affects the pet. In a national study of residents in domestic violence shelters over 70% indicated the abuser had injured or threatened the family pet.  Many victims don’t leave an abusive home because they fear retaliation against their pet.
In Saratoga County, there’s a solution. DVRC’s Safe Pet partnership offers temporary foster homes to pets while the family relocates to a non-violence home… and then they’re all reunited. DVRC’s goal is that no one lives in fear at home… and that includes the furry, feathered and finned family members.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. So join us  at the Purple Pooch Parade to increase awareness of domestic abuse… so we can END it! And bring your dog along too…

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