(BPT) - An estimated 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime. Escaping abusive situations and starting over in a new and safe environment is an overwhelming experience for victims, especially when pets are involved. An added challenge is that few (approximately 10 percent) domestic violence shelters in the U.S. accept and house pets. This leaves abuse victims with a difficult decision — flee to safety but leave their pet behind or stay with their abuser?
Almost half of domestic violence victims choose to stay in an abusive situation out of fear of what might happen to their pet if they leave.
Pets provide unconditional love and comfort, demonstrate loyalty and devotion, and teach people about care and compassion. Pets can also sense when their owners experience sadness or pain, and their presence can provide comfort and promote healing.
That’s why Purina has partnered with RedRover, a national nonprofit organization that helps people and animals in crisis situations, to create the Purple Leash Project. The Purple Leash Project not only raises awareness about this issue, but the program also helps provide funding and resources necessary to help more domestic violence shelters become safe, healing spaces for pets and people.
As part of the initiative, the business is committing more than $500,000 to establish Purple Leash Project grants, which are awarded in partnership with RedRover to shelters across the country to fund renovations to make their shelter spaces pet-friendly. The project aims to increase the number of pet-friendly domestic abuse shelters across the U.S. to ensure there are more resources available for survivors with pets in every state. Purina is also advocating for the cause at a federal level as a founding member of the PAWS Act Coalition, which helped pass legislation that will provide federal funding for domestic violence shelters to become pet-friendly.
How can you get involved?
1) Be vocal and spread awareness about this issue — Use your voice to advocate for your neighbors with pets who may be struggling with abuse by raising awareness of the lack of pet-friendly options for domestic violence victims. Visit the project website to stay informed of all the ways to get involved. And post your support for the mission on social media using #PurpleLeashProject to take a stand for the belief that pets and people deserve to escape abuse and heal together.
2) Ask your local DV shelter how you can help — Reach out to your local domestic violence shelter to see how you might be able to help the survivors in their care, and find out if it accepts pets now or is interested in finding resources to become pet-friendly (if so, tell them about the grants). From volunteering to making donations of clothing, diapers, toys and other comfort items for people and pets, there are a lot of things domestic violence shelters may need to care for the survivors they serve.
Support the Purple Leash Project — The mission is to increase the number of pet-friendly domestic violence shelters, and with your help, the goal can be reached even faster. To donate to this cause by making a donation directly to RedRover and learn more, visit www.PurpleLeashProject.com.
If you or someone you know or love is a victim of domestic abuse, call or visit the Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 for support and resources: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Bilingual advocates are available. To find a DV shelter that accepts pets or offers services for pets, visit safeplaceforpets.org.