March 19, 2008, - 4:13 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
This item is yet another “Pets–The New People” alert. . .
So you’re a battered wife (or husband–yes, it does happen that way) and you’ve been beaten and abused until you can’t take it anymore.
But you don’t leave because you’re also a cat lady and you can’t bear to leave the cat–whose life is apparently infinitely far more important than your own.
Enter one of the most ridiculous ideas I’ve heard of yet–PAWS–the Pets and Women’s Shelters. Note which noun–Pets–comes first. And there are many others like it:
When Rose Terry finally resolved to leave her abusive boyfriend, she knew she’d have to live in a shelter for a few weeks before she could start life anew. She had no reservations about that.
But she anguished over Byron, the cat who had seen her through the awful times. None of her friends could take the female feline (the family was first told she was male, hence the name), and she couldn’t bear the thought of placing her in an animal shelter until she got back on her feet. “I was desperate, weeping,” Terry says. “She’s my family.”
When Terry learned one Las Vegas domestic violence safe haven, Shade Tree Shelter, had just built a pet-boarding facility on its grounds for residents’ animals, “I was in such relief.” . . .
Domestic abuse shelters have long recognized that abused families, often kept so isolated that pets are their only friends, won’t leave the abuser. . . . So shelters have worked with animal-welfare groups that provide temporary pet care to ensure that everyone gets out of the situation.
Today, the emerging alternative is for domestic abuse shelters to provide on-site pet boarding. So far, fewer than a half-dozen such shelters exist, says Allie Phillips, director of public policy for the non-profit American Humane Association. But the numbers are certain to increase, as efforts are afoot on two fronts.
American Humane has just compiled and distributed a how-to guide, and Phillips’ goal is that by year’s end, at least 15 shelters will offer or will soon offer on-site pet boarding. Doorways for Women and Families Safehouse in Arlington, Va., will be the first to use American Humane’s Pets and Women’s Shelters (PAWS) Program start-up guide – officials there are in final planning to provide pet housing later this year. . . .
“We had the experience with several women who would arrive with a garbage bag full of possessions and a pet in tow and refuse to check in when they learned that we would find a safe place for the animal, but it couldn’t stay here with them,” Columbo says. “We’ve known of women who lived in their cars so they could keep their pets with them and women who stayed in a shelter but kept their pet in the car parked on the street, and, of course, women who wouldn’t leave their abuser because of concern for the safety of their animals. . . .”
Well, as I’ve often remarked on this site, the PETA a/k/a PUTAh (People for the Unethical Treatment of Animals and humans) folks have won. When American women who are being beaten and abused are more worried about the safety of animals than that of themselves, they’ve won.
Just think how many more battered and/or homeless people could be sheltered for the cost of doing so for pets. This is ludicrous.
It’s one thing to be against the abuse of animals. It’s entirely another to put animals’ welfare before that of humans.
And we’ve now surpassed that threshold. Congrats, America!
Tags: Allie Phillips, America, American Humane Association, Arlington, Debbie Schlussel, director of public policy, Las Vegas, Rose Terry, Shade Tree Shelter, Virginia