C.A.R.E.4Paws and Domestic Violence Solutions partner to provide pet care for victims leaving abusive homes.
Up to 40 percent of domestic violence victims report they’re unable to leave their abusers because they’re concerned about what will happen to their pets when they leave, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“What we’ve learned is that pets are used as pawns in domestic violence situations where the abuser is using the pet as a way to control family members and prevent them from leaving or speaking up against the abuse,” Isabelle Gullo said.
As a result, the executive director and co-founder of C.A.R.E.4Paws—a Santa Barbara County nonprofit that provides several pet services—partnered with Domestic Violence Solutions (DVS) to create Safe Haven: a program that provides anonymous and temporary fostering or boarding care through C.A.R.E.4Paws, Gullo said.
“[That way] the owners, the survivors, can leave the abusive relationship without having to worry about the safety of their pet,” she said. “With Safe Haven, people who are exposed to domestic violence can contact us directly, or contact the local shelter for help. We can take the pets in to provide foster care or boarding as long as it’s needed, that way the owner knows their pet is safe.”
The partnership with Domestic Violence Solutions (DVS) launched in January 2020; prior to Safe Haven, DVS had to turn people with pets away because they didn’t allow animals into the facilities, Gullo said.
“It’s definitely a unique partnership. C.A.R.E.4Paws reached out in 2019 when we started realizing how big a need there was for this kind of program in our community. We were founded in 2009 [and] we keep evolving and introducing new programming to make sure we meet pet care, community needs,” she added.
To highlight and raise funds for this program, C.A.R.E.4Paws and DVS are hosting a Walk Against Abuse on Sept. 18 that will have a community walk, food vendors, a photo booth, live music, activities, and a presentation about domestic violence and pet abuse, Gullo said.
“We have a couple of people who are going to share their experience[s] and how [Safe Haven] helped them. … In the end, they are reunited, and it’s the best feeling to see how much they missed each other and how happy they are to be together again,” she said.
C.A.R.E.4Paws hopes to raise about $50,000, which will go toward the program for boarding, veterinary care, spays/neuters, vaccines, pet food, beds, toys, and leashes. The organization also hopes to recruit more foster families and private sponsorship because it gets expensive to board pets for long periods of time, Gullo explained.
“We wanted to host an event, because a lot of people don’t know about Safe Haven and with this event, we have the opportunity to introduce the program to more pet families—many of whom may need help from our program. We need to raise funds for the costs and recruit more foster families,” she said. “It can be a long process for the pet owners, so we stand by and we want to make sure we provide pet care for as long as they need until the owner is ready.”
The Walk Against Abuse will be held Sept. 18 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Elings Park in Santa Barbara. Tickets are $25 per adult and $10 for children 12 and under. All proceeds go to Safe Haven’s pet care needs. For more information, visit care4paws.org/safehaven.