Shuswap society finds pets often suffer in domestic abuse cases

SPCA, SAFE Society working together to provide shelter for pets of women fleeing abuse

Pets are an important part of many families, a fact which often translates into pets being used or abused as part of domestic abuse.

Jane Shirley, executive director of the SAFE (Shuswap Area Family Emergency) Society, describes what she’s witnessed.

“In my experience over the years, there’s been many times people have lost their pets – they’ve been harmed or killed (by an abuser) when people have come into the shelter. And obviously people are too scared to report it… They’re already fearful for their lives or to be harmed themselves, or their children to be harmed, so it doesn’t go reported. It isn’t until more recently that it has actually been exposed that there is a link (to domestic abuse).”

Shirley refers to research by the National Link Coalition in the U.S. Seventy-one per cent of pet owners entering domestic violence shelters report that their abuser had threatened, injured or killed family pets.

“From a global perspective, the research is very clear that there is a link between criminal activity and animal abuse. Animal abuse often exposes other criminal behaviours,” Shirley says. “From a community perspective, it’s a family member, so often, and a dog or a cat or a pet is part of the abuse cycle, it’s just like a child. And often it’s a way of controlling the other people. ‘I’m going to hurt the dog, I’m going to hurt the cat.’”

Adds Paige Hilland, director of programming and community development with the SAFE Society:

“Or sometimes it’s the reason that somebody might return to an abusive situation because they’re unable to find somewhere to go with their pet.”

To help alleviate the problem, the SAFE Society and the Shuswap branch of the SPCA are joining forces so women fleeing abuse will be able to focus on looking after themselves and their families.

“Our goal is to remove barriers for people leaving unsafe situations and that would be by partnering with the SPCA and other large and small animal facilities so that they can have a safe place for their pet to be,” says Shirley.

The Salmon Arm Women’s Shelter will also work towards having its own pet friendly area as soon as possible but, in the meantime, it will also earmark funds to help pay for pet care. Anyone affected by domestic abuse or violence is encouraged to call the women’s shelter, available 24 hours, at 250-832-9616. To donate to the SAFE Society, call or go to www.safesociety.ca.

Read more: Giving boys options to masculine stereotypes

Read more: Domestic violence on the rise in Canada after eight-year decline

Read more: B.C. woman gets new trial after judge ‘stereotyped’ domestic violence victims

Read more: Women in vulnerable demographics most at risk of domestic homicide, study finds

Victoria Olynik, manager of the SPCA’s Shuswap branch, explains that the branch offers a free compassionate/emergency boarding service for dogs in need while their people find safer living accommodations.

Along with people fleeing domestic abuse, the service has also been provided to people with pets staying in the Salvation Army’s Lighthouse Shelter, or people in hospital who have no family nearby.

Dogs are provided board for a maximum of two weeks. Although there’s no room for cats, referrals can be provided.

Olynik confirms the SPCA is very aware of domestic abuse.

“We do see it in this community and it’s unfortunate. When you see animal abuse, it often exposes other behaviour. There’s definitely a link between animal abuse and family violence.”

Anyone who would like to donate to the BC SPCA is asked to go to: www.spca.bc.ca or call 250-832-7376.


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Just Posted

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Severe thunderstorm watch

Environment Canada forecasts thunder, cloud and rain for one more day

Housing provided for women and children fleeing violence in Penticton

Announcement on Friday is part of a provincewide initiative to construct additional housing.

People’s Party of Canada leader talks B.C. trade to Penticton supporters

Maxime Bernier, head of the new federal political party, spoke at Time Winery on Friday

Luke Skywalker makes an appearance in Penticton court

KVR Middle Schoolers get firsthand experience at the Penticton Courthouse

Keremeos council members plant tree to celebrate local government

It is the 100th anniversary of the Local Government Management Association of B.C.

Police release photos of suspect in daytime sex assault at Vancouver woman’s home

A young woman, in hers 20s, was followed home by the man, before he violently attacked her inside

More than just a playground: Penticton’s Busy Beans Play Café to help parents and children

Owners Kim Wade and Tracey Wiseman want to use their expertise to help struggling families

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

Highway 1 closed east of Revelstoke

Highway 1 is closed east of Revelstoke near Canyon Hot Springs due… Continue reading

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

Okanagan woman celebrates 101 years young on the back of a Harley Davidson

Last Saturday Violet Madeline celebrated 101 years. A member of the Lower… Continue reading

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Most Read