Safe space for pets of domestic violence victims

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RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — The Richmond SPCA offers safe housing for pets of domestic violence victims, who may be apprehensive to seek shelter and leave behind a furry friend.

“Domestic violence survivors actually delay leaving the situation and getting safety for themselves because of fear for their pets,” Tabitha Treloar, director of communications of the Richmond SPCA, said.

The SPCA’s free-of-charge Sheltering Animals of Abused Families (SAAF) program has been in existence for 15 years, and typically accommodates for pets up to 90 days.

Pets of victims are not held at the SPCA’s Hermitage Road humane center.

Treloar says the organization has a “confidential boarding partner” that houses pets “at an undisclosed location so that the abusive partner is not able to locate them.”

The Richmond SPCA works in conjunction with area domestic violence services organizations like the Richmond YWCA, Safe Harbor and Hanover Safe Place.

“We have had people that that has been the reason that they have been willing to leave (dangerous situations)” Patty McComas Hall said, director of community engagement for Hanover Safe Place.

McComas Hall says she has fielded phone calls where animals of victims were caught in the middle of their decision to seek help.

“One distressed female caller said, ‘Well, I would like to leave but I can’t.’ And I asked her ‘why’ and she said, ‘Well I have horses, and he said if I ever tried to leave he would kill my horses,'” Hall told 8News.

Referencing the call, McComas Hall said “this is not an atypical scenario,” though the partnership with the SPCA doesn’t include housing horses.

For those seeking help in domestic violence scenarios, there’s a hotline to help: (804) 612-6126.

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