Central Ohio Program Provides Shelter for Pets of Domestic Violence Victims

Columbus Humane, formerly known as Capital Area Humane Society, offers a unique program designed to support victims of domestic violence. The Safe Haven for Pets program provides temporary housing and care options for pets of domestic violence victims.

We know that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during their lifetime. We also know that the most dangerous time for a victim is when they choose to leave the abusive partner; the increased danger is due to the abusive partner losing power and control over the relationship. But, what about a victim’s pets?

There is a definite correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence. People (kids and adults) who abuse animals are five times more likely to also harm humans.* It is common for abusers to use an animal as a pawn in the relationship. For example, an abuser might say “If you don’t do this for me, then I’m taking the dog for a week.”

According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), abusers may kill, harm or threaten animals in order to:

– Exert dominance and power
– Prevent victims from leaving
– Eliminate a source of support for victims

Leaving a pet behind is a huge, often overlooked, barrier to leaving an abuser. Unfortunately, more than half of victims in domestic violence shelters leave their pets with their abusers due to lack of options or resources.**

The Safe Haven for Pets program is a wonderful local option for domestic violence victims who may fear for the safety of their animals when attempting to leave an abusive relationship. During their stay, all pets receive complete veterinary care, including vaccinations, microchips, spay/neuter procedures (required) and treatment for illness or injury. All services are offered at no cost to Franklin County, Ohio residents.

Columbus Humane’s Safety Planning Tips
Safety planning for a victim is extremely important; it’s just as important to have a plan for your pet. Make sure to establish custody of your animals and know what to pack:

  • A few days’ worth of pet food and water
  • Any necessary supplies
  • Vaccination records and/or proof of ownership
  • Include pet protection orders, if possible
  • Identify pet-friendly apartments in your community that may be affordable or provide financial assistance
  • Identify services that offer low-cost veterinary care, food banks, foster care, pet loss support lines and adoption services

Victims of domestic violence seeking assistance with pets can call the dedicated Safe Haven line at 614-980-2032 or email safehavenpets@columbushumane.org. Additional details about the Safe Haven program can be found here.

Reporting Animal Cruelty

Everyone should feel empowered to be an active bystander when it comes to family violence. This means stepping up if you think you see or hear abuse. In some cases, family violence can involve pets. Taking a moment to recognize the signs of animal cruelty, and knowing how to make a report could save a life.

Columbus Humane encourages everyone to report animal cruelty. Columbus Humane is the leading law enforcement agency in Franklin County for investigating cases of animal cruelty. Each year, humane agents investigate more than 6,000 reports of animal cruelty. They work seven days a week investigating complaints and educating the community.

If you know of an animal that has been abandoned, neglected or mistreated, reports can be made by calling 614-777-7387 extension 250. This line, if unanswered, directs callers to a confidential voicemail. Callers should provide the street address and zip code where the animal is located. Columbus Humane volunteers and staff must be able to speak with the person who directly observed the mistreatment (including children, if applicable). Leaving a return phone number allows the Cruelty Dispatchers to follow up, if necessary. There is also an online form to report animal cruelty: http://www.cahs-pets.org/report-cruelty.

If you aren’t sure what to look for, here are some tips on how to recognize animal cruelty:

– Extremely thin, starving animals
– Wounds on the body
– Patches of missing or matted hair
– Limping
– Dogs who are repeatedly left alone or outside without food, water or shelter
– Tick or flea infestation
– Flystrike (open wounds on ears and/or nose caused by biting fleas)
– Embedded collars or chairs around the neck

For stray dogs, or dogs running loose, please contact Franklin County Animal Care & Control at 614-525-3400.

To file a Lost Dog Report, please call 614-525-3647 or email LostMyDog@FranklinCountyOhio.gov.

Interested in adopting a cat, dog or other pet from Columbus Humane? See the shelter animals looking for a forever home here: http://www.cahs-pets.org/i-want-to-adopt.

Additional Resources

Article References

** https://www.familysheltersa.org/tag/domestic-violence-pets/




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