Edit: Aug. 12. Previous editions of this article described the expansion as a “pet shelter” but the crisis centre has asked for it be referred to as housing because it will not be a shelter.
The Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre is looking to expand their services to another element of the family dynamic.
*Pet housing is in the works to have space available for the pets of domestic violence abuse victims that the centre serves.
Cindy Yang, resource development coordinator at the DMSCC, said the numbers show that pet safety plays a factor in delaying victims from seeking help.
A study from the University of Windsor shows that 89 per cent of abused women say their partner also abused a pet, that 56 per cent of victims delay leaving the relationship for fear of their pet’s safety, and 88 per cent of families reported that when children were abused, animals were as well.
“Our housing facility is one of the ways that we’re trying to remove barriers for our clients that come through, so the women and their kids. We recognize that in times of trauma, it’s really important to have that pet-human bond connected,” said Yang.
“Right now, our emergency shelter can accommodate the women as well as their kids to ensure that they are in a safe environment, but we cannot accommodate at this time their pets. We don’t have the correct parameters in place at this time, as much as we want to take them in right now.”
When victims come to the Dr. Margaret Savage with pets, they have provisions with the local kennels to help serve the clients.
But often these services are not easily accessible for the victims afterwards, said Yang, because they often travel on foot.
“This is something that the clients have expressed through time that this is something that would really help them out,” said Yang.
“We’ve had clients who choose to only stay one night, just because they’re too scared about leaving their pets somewhere else. They’re too scared about leaving their pets behind.”
The small shelter is planned to be on-site, fenced-in, at the Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre and have five stalls or rooms for pets that could take in most animals except reptiles.
It would be a unique service as there are only nine similar facilities across the country.
They are currently fundraising to make the plan a reality with the hopes of breaking ground this year.
“We welcome any amount of donations, any sort of donation, and they can do so either through our website, or they can contact me directly, either by phone or email,” said Yang.
Yang can be reached at 780-826-9875 or [email protected]