SAN ANTONIO – Family Violence Prevention Services has launched its New Leash on Life program to allow victims of abuse to stay with their pets while they stay at the Battered Women and Children’s Shelter.
A Texas law enacted in 2013 allows victims to include their pets in their protective order.
FVPS said up to 65% of domestic violence victims will delay leaving or refuse to leave an abusive situation out of fear of leaving their pets behind.
“They are forced to make that decision, you know, to weigh whether they come to the shelter or not, and that's what we don't want,” said Marta Pelaez, president and CEO of FVPS.
The nonprofit is campaigning for a $700,000 pet shelter in which pets will be able to stay on the main campus of the Battered Women and Children’s Shelter.
Pelaez said the program will not only keep families with their animals but also protect the pets from abuse. She said victims have told her horror stories of their abuser hurting their animals.
“Where he has tortured the pet. He has in some instances killed the pet,” Pelaez said.
Pelaez said victims are already going through a very fragile situation. She said being able to provide a place for their pets is important for the victims’ mental health.
“We want to make sure that the pets' needs are also met and they're respected, because quite frequently, they are the only connection that the children have to some kind of emotional stability,” she said.
The nonprofit has a partnership with the Humane Society, where victims’ animals can stay while families and victims live at the shelter.
The Battered Women and Children’s Shelter is currently allowing a small number of animals to stay on the campus with their families until a pet shelter is built.
A third of the money needed for the pet shelter has been raised through donations and grants. The nonprofit hopes to have the center built sometime this year.
To donate or for more information, visit the FVPS website.