HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - A local nonprofit is expanding the space it allows for pets of domestic violence victims.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 81 million people experience psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Officials with the Domestic Abuse Family Shelter say research shows about 50% of victims delay leaving domestic violence situations because of pets.
“A pet is a part of your family, and so if you’re fleeing a domestic violence situation to have to leave behind a family member is devastating,” said Wendy Mahoney, Executive Director of the Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Now, the Domestic Abuse Family Shelter will be able to make more accommodations for domestic violence victims and their pets.
Officials say the shelter is receiving $40,000 in grants provided by Greater Good Charities, BI Cares and the Purina Purple Leash Project.
Officials tell WDAM it is the first shelter in the State of Mississippi to partner with these organizations, meaning this is a big deal for the shelter.
“Just to be able to bring your pet, and that’s also a sense of security, because victims are already experiencing trauma, so you know we don’t want to add to that trauma,” said Rebecca Stewart, Executive Director of the Domestic Abuse Family Shelter. “By allowing them to bring their pet with them, it’s just going to be better all the way around.”
Rescue Rebuild is a program of Greater Good Charities, and is constructing the extended pet areas of the shelter.
Officials with the organization detail its role in the project.
“Rescue Rebuild started renovating animal shelters back in 2007, and then in 2016, we really saw there was a huge need for homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters to be able to accommodate pets, so we moved over and now do this as well,” said Bryna Donnelly, Director of Rescue Rebuild.
If you are a victim of domestic violence and need help, you can call the Domestic Abuse Family Shelter 24/7 crisis line at 1-800-649-1092.