YWCA Missoula received a $20,000 grant from RedRover’s Safe Housing program to help domestic violence survivors who are fleeing violent homes stay connected to their pets in shelter.
RedRover’s Safe Housing grants help domestic violence survivors by removing a barrier to safety and allowing pets and people to escape abuse together. Unfortunately, nearly half of domestic violence survivors delay leaving their abuser because of a pet, and 25% of survivors return to abusive homes because they had to leave a pet behind.
“By helping keep people and their pets together, this grant will provide comfort and security to survivors during a time of crisis,” said Patty Murphy, YWCA Missoula Director of Programs. “Ultimately it will help them to build a better future for themselves and their families.”
Onsite pet programs at domestic violence are rare to find, including in Western Montana. In YWCA Missoula’s entire 7,000 square mile region, only one small rural shelter accepts pets. Although the YWCA does offers alternatives like pet boarding at licensed facilities or with volunteer Pet Advocates, survivors have still chosen not to come into the safety of shelter if it means being separated from their pet. Over the course of just six months, 15 women with pets who reached out for help through the crisis-line declined to enter shelter upon learning that pets could not be accommodated on-site.
RedRover President and CEO Nicole Forsyth said, “Pets are family, and can provide endless comfort after escaping an abuser. We are proud our grant will help YWCA Missoula welcome both survivors and their beloved pets to the shelter so they can begin their healing process, together.”
With the RedRover grant, YWCA Missoula will remodel three sleeping rooms in the domestic violence shelter at The Meadowlark to welcome pets. This includes installing vinyl flooring and perimeter wall and door guards. An outdoor pet exercise and relief area will also be created. YWCA Missoula will continue to provide offsite boarding in instances where all three pet-friendly rooms are already occupied.