Providing safe places for families with pets escaping domestic violence

Domestic abuse can affect the entire household, leaving women, children and pets vulnerable to violence. But many women’s shelters do not include animal services. And fearing repercussions if they were to leave the relationship without their pet, many women stay in abusive relationships.

Our colleagues in the US recognized this issue and sought to make a difference. Through Bayer's Grants Fur Families program, they are helping fund pet care services at domestic abuse shelters to provide a way for women, children and their pets to find refuge as a family.


The animal well-being challenge

Nearly half of abused women stay in an abusive relationship out of concern for the welfare of their beloved pet.1  While there is a strong network of domestic violence shelters, there still remains a significant unmet need for these individuals to find shelter alongside with their pets. Faced with a lack of shelter, an abuse survivor is faced with an unthinkable choice: choose between remaining in an abusive relationship or leaving their pet, another member of their family, with their abuser.

"I wouldn't be alive if I didn't have my dog..." - Crisis Center client

Our solution on-the-ground

Following an established partnership with Noah’s Animal House, a non-profit providing the largest women and children’s shelter in Nevada, Bayer discovered the scale of the issue.

"We recognise the deep, life-changing bond that people share with their pets," says Lauren Dorsch, Deputy Director, Communications, Bayer Animal Health US.

To provide immediate action, Bayer launched the Grants Fur Families program, encouraging shelters to apply for money to create, maintain and enhance safe spaces for those fleeing mental, physical and emotional abuse with their pets

The result

In 2018, Bayer pledged US$130,000 through the Grants Fur Families fund, resulting in 13 shelters successfully securing a generous $10,000 each. Now, in its second year, Bayer is giving US$90,000 to fund nine additional domestic violence shelters, each receiving US$10,000.

Knowing that nine more organizations are able to save lives by keeping survivors with their pets means that communities are getting safer,” Lauren says. “No one should have to choose between their safety and their pet."

One grant recipient, L.I. Against Domestic Violence, developed partnerships with animal shelters to ensure safe fostering of victims’ pets while they stayed in the shelter.  

“We knew we needed to do more to eliminate these barriers and find a way to keep families with pets together, especially following a traumatic event where separation often compounds the feelings of despair,” says Colleen Merlo, Executive Director at L.I. Against Domestic Violence. “The funding provided by Bayer through the Grants Fur Families program will ultimately decrease the number of survivors that stay in or return to a dangerous situation due to lack of safety for their pet.”

Over the past several years, Bayer has given over US$500,000 to domestic violence shelters in more than 20 states in an effort to keep people and pets together, break the cycle of domestic violence and create stronger and healthier communities.

180 Turning Lives Around
Photo courtesy of 180 Turning Lives Around
Next Step Domestic Violence Project
Photo courtesy of the Next Step Domestic Violence Project

Facilities receiving Grants Fur Families funding

Advocates Agsinst Domestic Abuse located in Minnesota

Domestic Abuse Family Shelter, Inc. located in Mississippi

Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas, Inc. located in Kansas

Domestic Violence Intervention Services located in Oklahoma

Empower Yolo located in California

L.I. Against Domestic Violence located in New York

Ohio Guidestone located in Ohio

Project Safe, Inc. located in Georgia

Women and Children First – The Center Against Family Violence located in Arkansas

180 Turning Lives Around located in New Jersey

Battered Women's Shelter of Summit and Medina Counties located in Ohio

Bridges of Williamson County located in Tennessee

Center for Hope and Safety located in Oregon

Crisis Center located in Colorado

Domestic Violence Intervention Program located in Iowa

Haven Hills located in California

Haven House, Inc. located in New Mexico

Next Step Domestic Violence Project located in Maine

Quigley House located in Florida

Resources Education Assistance Counseling and Housing of Macon located in North Carolina

Safehouse Services located in Wyoming

Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh located in Pennsylvania