Paula Abdul Helps Promote PAWS Program
Recording artist, performer and judge for the American Idol TV show, Paula Abdul has signed on as a pro-bono spokesperson for American Humane’s PAWS Program. “The PAWS Program is a critical way of providing a transition for abused women and children into a safer and better life,” Paula said. “I feel privileged to be involved with this extremely important and necessary program.”
American Humane Launches Pets and Women's Shelters (PAWS) Program
In their lifetimes, approximately one in four women will be victims of domestic violence. Given that more than 71 million U.S. households include companion animals as pets, it is inevitable that many of those households will experience both domestic violence and animal abuse. In fact, in a study of intentional animal abuse cases, 13 percent involved incidents of domestic violence, 7 percent co-existed with child abuse and 1 percent involved elder abuse.
When domestic violence victims with pets consider fleeing abusive homes and there is no safe place to house their pets, they have little choice but to remain in their homes and subject themselves, their children and their pets to continued violence, or to flee and leave their pets behind.
Because victims understand the extent of the harm that their abusers will likely inflict upon their pets, if left behind, many victims remain in violent relationships. Currently, numerous programs provide procedures for housing family pets off-site at animal shelters or with animal rescue groups, and many shelters are following such a plan. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s 2004 National Directory of Domestic Violence Programs, more than 700 shelters across the country provide assistance or referrals for placement of pets; however, at the start of the PAWS Program in February 2008, American Humane was aware of only four shelters that actually provide on-site housing for pets.
Maintaining the Human-Animal Bond in Times of Crisis
Recognizing both the urgent need to protect domestic violence victims from further abuse and the comfort that pets provide people, especially in times of stress and trauma, American Humane is leading a national program to guide domestic and family violence emergency housing shelters toward permitting residents to bring their pets with them. American Humane’s Pets and Women’s Shelters (PAWS)™ Program acknowledges the richness of the bond between people and their pets, which often provide unconditional love and comfort to adult domestic violence victims and their children. For that reason -- as well as for the safety of the pets -- American Humane strongly advocates keeping domestic violence victims and their pets together whenever possible.
The PAWS Program Startup Guide, written by Allie Phillips, J.D., director of public policy for American Humane, provides simple, how-to methods for starting a PAWS Program at a domestic violence shelter.
American Humane envisions a day when no family members, including pets, will be harmed. Until that day comes, implementing a PAWS Program in every domestic violence shelter throughout the United States will help keep people and their pets