Domestic Violence and Pets: Finding Safety for Both Victims
by SPCAI Staff
Recently, we had the privilege of speaking to an incredibly inspiring woman who runs a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Maya Gupta. The shelter is called, Ahimsa House, meaning non-violence in Sanskrit and was founded in 2004 by Emilie Christie, a woman who fell victim to domestic violence and suffered more pain due to the abuse, and sadly the death, of her beloved pet. Emily’s vision of building the Ahimsa House became a reality because she saw a great need for victims of domestic violence to have a safe place they could turn to without leaving their pet behind.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence's directory of domestic violence programs, less than 1 in 8 domestic violence shelters is able to accommodate victims' pets. Because abusers often threaten to harm the pet if the victim flees, as many as half of all victims delay seeking safety because they fear for their pets’ life.
According to Dr.Gupta, “Recognizing the bonds between victims and their pets, many batterers threaten, harm, and even kill pets in the home in order to control, intimidate, and retaliate against their victims.”
Ahimsa House, the first organization of its kind dedicated to “helping the human and animal victims of domestic violence reach safety together,” provides a network of foster homes and boarding facilities, not only in Atlanta, but across the United States which offer strict confidentiality and a safe haven for both the victim and their pet. Aside from shelter and immediate needs, Ahimsa House will offer legal advocacy, veterinary care, pet supplies and food, as well as a 24-hour crisis hotline within the State of Georgia.
We know how sensitive this issue is for many, so we invite you to please share this link with those who might be in need or interested in the subject.