DC animal welfare program protects animals that could be domestic violence victims

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Washington Human Society and Washington Animal Rescue League help domestic abuse victims find a temporary home for their pets.

WASHINGTON, DC — A group in Washington DC is trying to make the decision to leave an abusive relationship a little easier for pet owners.

For more than 10 years, the Safe Haven program has been able to find a temporary home for dogs and cats of abused men and women struggling to change their lives but scared to leave a loved pet at home and in danger.

“It is a well studied link between animal abuse and domestic violence,” said Daniel D’Eramo, a senior Humane Law Enforcement Officer with the Washington Humane Society and Washington Animal Rescue League.

“A lot of times the abuser will use animals to control people, will control them from leaving the home,” said D’Eramo. “People will remain in abusive relationships because they don’t want to leave their animal behind.”

Safe Haven works quickly to place a pet within a day or two of an initial call for help. The group is a resource for several domestic violence programs in the Metro area that may be able to help find a temporary shelter for a domestic violence victim but not for a pet.

“They’re usually at the point where they’re trying to be relocated to a home or a shelter but the only thing holding them up at that point is the dog,” said D’Eramo.

An animal usually is housed with a local shelter as if it were on a court-ordered hold.

The stay can last a few weeks or a few months but its relief for victims to know that when they’re ready to start over again in a new home they will have a safe and happy loved one to begin that new life with.

“Not only are people grateful that they’re getting help for their animal but they’re finally able to get the help they need for themselves,” said D’Eramo.