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Why won't she leave him? Abused women often fear for pets left behind
Date:9/25/2013

r shift in facilities and training for shelter personnel," said Marcella Ridgway, a clinical associate professor in the U of I College of Veterinary Medicine.

According to Ridgway, the U of I program provides up to 30 days of care for pets of women staying at two local shelters. Although many people have a stereotypical idea about pets that have been exposed to violence, the veterinarians typically encounter animals with subtle indicators of a problem, such as having fallen behind on vaccinations or heartworm checks.

"Student volunteers care for the pets and arrange visits between the women and their pets. These students may have some knowledge of interpersonal violence, and they see this as a way to help. Some are able to see the animal come in and then witness the reunion at the end so it's quite fulfilling for them," said Cheryl Weber, student services coordinator and grief educator at the college.

Hardesty advised that domestic violence shelter staff:

  • Inform women seeking shelter about safe haven programs and other emergency resources for pets, preferably before they arrive at the shelter
  • Provide opportunities for women to discuss their pets
  • Incorporate pets into active safety planning efforts
  • Educate and train staff about sensitive approaches that acknowledge that women have different bonds to their pets
  • Collaborate with community partners to develop safe haven programs or other safe options for pets

Ridgway recommended that veterinary professionals:

  • Help spread the word about safe haven programs and emergency resources for pets
  • Become educated and promote awareness about the links between domestic violence and pet abuse
  • Be knowledgeable and nonjudgmental with clients who disclose domestic violence
  • Address pet health care issues in an honest and thorough but nonjudgmental manner, using a triaged approach to avoid overwhelming clients
  • Assist clien
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Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer
p-pickle@illinois.edu
217-244-2827
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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