A Year of Giving

Season’s Greetings!  We wish you and your family a joyful holiday season.

This year Shelter Our Pets helped keep many cats, dogs and other domestic pets and their owners safe from domestic violence. By providing a temporary safe haven for their pets, owners can courageously flee an abusive situation and rebuild their lives.

Message_1448835178851We could not provide this service without the help of the board, dedicated volunteers and the foster families that generously welcomed the pets in their homes. Although the “season of giving” is currently upon us and will be over before we know it, foster families gave to the community this entire year by caring for pets and owners in need, and will continue to do so in the new year. Battered women’s shelters are often unable to provide services for victims’ pets, creating a high demand for foster homes.

“Thank goodness Shelter Our Pets steps in,” says Lill Corcoran, Associate Executive Director at the Center for Hope and Safety, “By fostering pets until an abused family can begin a new life, it gives abused family members time to heal and start a new home were they can be reunited with their pets in an abuse-free home.” Pet and owner reunions this year were a heartwarming reminder of the importance of services provided by Shelter Our Pets.



Abuse Victim and Their Pet are Reunited

An emotional reunion!

It is our policy to protect the identity of the victims of abuse and their pets that we aid. For this reason, and for the safety of all involved, we are not always able to show you photos of those we help, but we can share their story.

After three months under our foster care, Shelter Our Pets reunited a pet and their owner, both victims of abuse. It was a joyful reunion and the owner has expressed incredible gratitude to Shelter Our Pets for taking such wonderful care of their best friend. Our canine foster grew from pup to an adult while getting lots of attention in two wonderful foster homes along with playtime with the other family dogs. We thank all the Shelter Our Pets heroes who helped especially our very wonderful foster families!

Shelter Our Pets provides aid and peace of mind for abuse victims

For immediate release:                                                                                                           

Contact: Laura Mann 973-506-9696 

Shelter Our Pets provides aid and peace of mind for abuse victims

WEST MILFORD, NJ, OCTOBER 6, 2012–Fleeing an abusive situation is a difficult decision for victims of domestic abuse, and for some, the worry and fear that their pets will suffer abuse if left behind, complicates the decision to leave. Shelter Our Pets, Inc. an all-volunteer, non-profit corporation serving New Jersey, provides temporary shelter, medical care, and behavioral rehabilitation for the animals of domestic abuse victims.

“The decision to leave a batterer is extremely difficult, and when the victim considers the only source of comfort—a family pet—may have to be left behind, it only complicates an already emotional decision,” said Lynn Gregorski-Bosi, a founder of Shelter Our Pets. “Many domestic violence shelters cannot provide shelter for a family pet, as well as the victim.   If we can lift this one burden for the victim it may encourage the abuse victim to leave the situation, knowing the family pet will be safe.”

Domestic violence and animal abuse are not mutually exclusive according to the American Humane Association. In fact, one becomes fodder for the other. For example, 71 % of pet-owning women entering shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims; 32% reported their children had hurt or killed animals in response to abuse situations.

Psychological control is often the motive of a batterer, and pets can be used very effectively. Statistics from the American Humane Association show 68% of battered women reported violence towards their animals, with 87% of these incidents occurring in the presence of the victim and 75% in the presence of the children.

Between 25% and 40% of battered women are unable to escape abusive situations because they worry about what will happen to their pets or livestock should they leave. Further, the Association found, pets may suffer unexplained injuries, health problems, permanent disabilities at the hands of abusers, or disappear from home.

Kathleen Schatzmann, New Jersey state director for The Humane Society of the United States, said “The Humane Society of the United States applauds Shelter our Pets for protecting all victims of domestic violence by allowing the victims to leave an abusive situation knowing their pets are in a safe place.”

According to Shelter Our Pets founding member Laura Mann, Esq., “In the short term we want abuse victims to know we will be there to take care of the animals; over the long-term, we hope to be able to offer a facility where the survivors and their pets can remain together safely, while they break free from their lives of abuse. We seek to fill the gap in addressing this unmet need of survivors to hopefully play a small role in breaking the cycle of abuse and the torture of animals that also endure the cruelty of these abusers.”

Beatriz Wawra, Director of Crisis Services at Shelter Our Sisters, which provides aid and shelter to abused women, added, “Shelter Our Pets is a much needed service that will benefit victims of domestic violence. We have had calls, wherein the caller wants to know if it is considered domestic violence when a partner is hurting a family pet after an argument. My answer is ‘yes’.  This behavior can escalate to a more dangerous situation for the victim.”

Investigation of animal abuse is often the first point of social services intervention for a family in trouble.

In 2011, the NJ legislators passed a bill that permits the court to include animals in domestic violence restraining orders.   NJ Senator Thomas Kean Jr. said, “While the new law provides legal shelter for the victims of domestic abuse and their pets, this new volunteer service will provide actual shelter for these animals, thus ensuring that domestic abuse victims no longer have to choose between leaving their home for safety and protecting their beloved pets.  I am so pleased that Shelter Our Pets has recognized the void that existed in this area, and has worked toward providing a much-needed resource in the effort to protect victims of domestic abuse. “

NJ Assemblywoman, Connie Wagner, who co-sponsored the bill in the Assembly said, “The public has become far more aware of the horrors some pets face at the hands of abusive spouses and partners.  I applaud the work of Shelter Our Pets and other organizations as they provide services for at-risk pets that are being protected under the new law.”

In addition to Mann and Gregorski, Shelter Our Pets founding Trustees include Melissa Neiss, Director, Montclair Township Animal Shelter.

For information or assistance in sheltering pets, please contact, Laura Mann at  973-506-9696.