LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS 11)-- October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and to kick off the campaign The Center for Women and Families and the Kentucky Humane Society are partnering to highlight the connection between domestic and pet violence.
Sixty-eight percent of domestic violence victims report abuse against animals first, it's an early and dramatic indicator that something is wrong. Victims will often stay in an abusive relationship because they don't want to leave their pets and that's where the Safe Haven program comes in.
The Kentucky Humane Society and the Center for Women and Families are working together to provide a temporary safe haven for pets as a way to help domestic violence victims escape their abusers. On Tuesday the organizations unveiled the newly renovated pet spaces at the center, one for cats and one for dogs. The pets can stay at the center for 48 hours while the Humane Society works to place the animals in a foster home where they'll be cared for while the victims work to get the help they need.
“When animals in a home are abused or neglected, it is a warning sign that someone in that household is also in danger,” Marta Miranda, CEO of the Center for Women and Families, said.
“Often times a person that is in an abusive situation will not leave for fear that if they leave a pet behind, that retribution will be taken out on that pet, so we got together and said how can we do this?” said Lori Redmon, CEO of the KY Humane Society.
To ensure abusers cannot track down the animals, foster families never meet the survivors and aren't allowed to post photos of their foster pets on social media.
Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad also spoke on Tuesday. He says there have been 11 domestic violence related homicides in 2016 alone. He also reiterated the importance of recognizing signs involving animals.
“In 2011 we had a rather high profile homicide, a domestic violence homicide, where a man killed his 14 year old step son, in that situation, some point prior to the murder this man threatened and then made good on his promises to harm the family pets and kill the family dog,” said Chief Conrad.
The Sam Swope Family Foundation donated $100,000 to the Center for Women and Families, helping to fund the new Safe Haven pet spaces.
The Center for Women and Families provides free services for people in need.
The Humane Society is looking for people who would like to volunteer as foster parents to pets from abusive homes.