Iowa Domestic Violence Shelter To Accept Pets

The Domestic Violence Intervention Program is expanding so victims of domestic abuse can keep their pets with them.

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Pets will get shelter in a new way in Iowa. Via Domestic Violence Intervention Program/Facebook
John Virata

Victims of domestic violence often have pets, which can lead to issues when it comes to housing their animals as they seek shelter from abuse at home. Often, they simply won’t leave an abusive home because of their pets.

In Iowa City, Iowa, the Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP) announced that it will complete its Cooper’s House Program by July 2016, adding three dog kennels, an outdoor dog run and three cat homes to its facility, according to the Iowa City Press-Citizen. The additions to the facility will enable some of its clients to bring their pets with them to the shelter.

“We’ve known for a long time that a little over 70 percent of victims of domestic and dating violence have pets,” Kristie Fortmann-Doser, DVIP’s executive director, told the news outlet. “We would constantly hear on the crisis line people saying they can’t leave their home because they’re worried about their pets.”

The shelter was awarded a $6,000 national grant from RedRover in November to expand the services it provides to victims of domestic abuse. It will also conduct fundraisers to help pay for any additional construction costs. RedRover is a national program that ensures that at least one shelter in each of the 50 states has on-site kennels to help victims of domestic abuse who have pets.

“Around 48 percent, or almost half, of women have refused to leave a dangerous situation because they’re worried about their pets,” Missie Forbes, DVIP’s development director told the Iowa City Press-Citizen. “That’s what makes this addition really important.”

In addition to dogs and cats, the shelter has in the past year provided foster care for a variety of pets, including a bearded dragon, a snake, a pot-bellied pig with eight piglets and even a donkey, but this involved sending the animals to other shelters in the areas. Cooper House will enable DVIP clients to be close to their pets so they can provide care to them as DVIP recognizes the therapeutic effects that pets can have on its clients. The DVIP estimates that it will house around 25 cats and dogs a year.

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