Domestic Violence Shelter Changes Policy to Allow PetsThe Rose Brooks Center for Domestic Violence in Kansas City just made an unprecedented policy change which undoubtedly will save even more women’s lives than ever in their history.  They have chosen to begin accepting animals and have re-designed facilities with a dog run, kennel, and trail area.

Domestic violence experts at the shelter estimate that 40 percent of women remain in abusive relationships because they will not leave their animal companions behind.  Last year, a woman who was brutally beaten by her domestic partner with a hammer was subsequently thrown from the second story along with her Great Dane.  She refused to leave the dog, which she refers to as her angel, behind in order to enter the shelter.

The Rose Brooks Center is making this forward-thinking decision in line changing thinking among public-safety first responders in disaster.  The emergency management paradigm for many years was that humans were provided for, while pets were left to fend for themselves.  Sadly, in situations like Hurricane Katrina and other major disasters, human beings remained in harm’s way rather than leaving a beloved canine or feline companion behind.  Many people died as a result.  Emergency management officials now routinely help plan for domestic animals during an emergency.

While caring for animals during disaster or domestic violence situations is a bit more complex, there are moral implications to consider, as well.  If failing to properly care for an animal on a routine basis, such as properly attending to health issues or feeding the creature, how then is it permissible under the law to leave a pet in a violent
household or facing certain death due to a weather emergency?

Numerous studies have proven that animals have positive influence over human beings in crisis.  Interacting with an animal companion helps the elderly live longer.  Petting a beloved cat or dog reduces stress, as well as blood
pressure.  Therapy dogs routinely serve in hospitals and nursing homes.  “Guide dogs’ serve not only the sight and hearing impaired, but also the mentally ill and individuals with seizure disorders.

Congratulations to the Rose Brooks Center for their innovation in assisting members of domestic violence by reuniting victims with their animal companions.

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