Thanks to the support of a $20,000 grant awarded last year from RedRover’s Safe Housing program, as well as a three-year $100,000 grant from the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), YWCA Missoula’s domestic violence shelter has successfully transitioned to a pet-friendly facility. The OVC grant allowed us to greatly expand the scope of the project and accommodate more dogs and cats on site than originally planned.
Our goal is to allow more survivors fleeing violent homes to stay connected to their pets while in shelter, and to remove a barrier to safety. 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.
Over the last year we have remodeled six sleeping rooms in the domestic violence shelter at The Meadowlark to welcome pets. This includes installing vinyl flooring and perimeter wall and door guards. We also added an outdoor pet exercise and relief area, so that shelter residents can safely take their pets outside.
Pets who have experienced trauma can receive behavioral therapy if needed, thanks to a partnership with the Western Montana Humane Society. Additional assistance for animals in shelter includes access toys, food, beds, and other basic needs.
In cases where a pet is too reactive to safely live in the communal environment of the shelter, YWCA Missoula continues to provide offsite boarding. “Our goal is to provide a path to safety with as few barriers as possible,” said Patty Murphy, director of programs. “We never want a survivor to stay in a dangerous situation because they don’t want to leave their pet behind.”
If you have questions about your safety or the safety of someone you care about, please reach out to YWCA’s 24-hour support line: 406-542-1944.