LAS VEGAS – SafeNest’s 24/7 confidential shelter has offered haven for domestic violence survivors and their families for decades. Now, thanks to a $20,000 grant from RedRover, CARES Act funding, and private donor support, SafeNest is excited to announce an expansion of shelter services to include onsite pet boarding for cats and dogs.
According to Safe Place for Pets, up to 65% of domestic violence victims are unable to leave their abuser because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets when they leave, and 71% of victims report their pets are also being abused.
“We realized the lack of dedicated space for pets was a barrier keeping some survivors from leaving an abusive relationship,” said Christy Shannon, SafeNest Chief Operating Officer. “By creating space for pets, we can give survivors fleeing abuse more options for themselves and their beloved animal family members, while maintaining the bond each family has with their pet during a difficult time.”
The new pet sheltering plan will make SafeNest part of the 17% of U.S. domestic violence centers that currently allow pets.
The expansion includes two standalone housing units equipped with air conditioning and heat: one to kennel up to eight dogs and one to kennel up to six cats at the nonprofit’s 24-7 confidential shelter. SafeNest can also accommodate up to 10 emotional support animals and their owners in an existing modified building at shelter.
In addition to the pet housing, SafeNest has installed and landscaped a shaded, fenced dog run area to allow shelter residents to interact and play with their pets outside.
To complement the new pet accommodations, SafeNest will continue arranging pet boarding when its on-site shelters are full, including a volunteer pet fostering program the agency established in 2019 and off-site pet boarding with local veterinary clinics and pet boarding facilities.
“Pets can often be victimized in an abusive relationship, and the threat of harming a pet can be used by an abuser to control their victim,” said Shannon. “Through this program, we not only can save pets from further abuse, but we can also give our residents peace of mind and comfort as they go through their own recovery. We’re grateful to RedRover and our other partners for making this important expansion possible.”
Animal welfare and protection from domestic violence is gaining political traction. Missouri state Sen. Elaine Gannon, R-De Soto has, for example, sponsored legislation to allow child and adult orders of protection to include pets. And in October, the nonprofit Animal Welfare Institute launched its revamped Safe Havens Mapping Project directory of more than 1,200 sheltering services in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to help domestic violence victims place companion animals out of harm’s way.
Las Vegans interested in donating to SafeNest’s pet sheltering program can give at safenest.org or shop the nonprofit’s Amazon Wish List at https://safenest.org/donate-new-goods/.
SafeNest is Nevada’s largest and most comprehensive non-profit agency dedicated to ending the epidemic of domestic violence in Clark County. Since opening its doors in 1977, SafeNest has answered over 500,000 hotline calls and sheltered over 20,000 individuals. Programs include: 24-hour domestic violence hotline, confidential shelter, protection order services, counseling, advocacy, court assistance and prevention education. For more information, visit www.safenest.org. For immediate help and support, call or text the 24/7 domestic violence hotline at 702-646-4981.