Components of a Successful National Directory of Safe Havens for Domestic Violence Survivors and Their Pets
MaryLou Randour Sydney Hearst Valerie Peña Anabel Kearley Gabriella Castillo

In 2011, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) began a first-of-its-kind national directory in the U.S. of safe havens for pets of domestic violence survivors: Safe havens are sheltering services available in an area that assist individuals experiencing domestic violence with placing their companion animals out of harm's way so that they may seek safety for themselves. The AWI directory is searchable by zip code.

The panel will discuss the rationale, development, upkeep, and growth of the safe havens for pet’s directory. This description will include details of the methods used to originate and then re-verify the entries in the directory, as well as ways in which AWI has sought interaction with the domestic violence community for suggestions and insights, including working with the National Violence Domestic Violence Hotline. Initially, the safe havens for pets’ program was intended primarily as a resource, however, as it has matured the panel will describe an expansion of the goals of the safe havens for pets’ program. For example, recently AWI also launched associated social media pages. The rationale for developing this social media presence, as well as the responses to date, will be described. Another goal of the program is to facilitate a way in which the more than 1,200 safe havens for pets’ programs in the U.S. can communicate with one another. The panel also welcomes participation for the attendees and will be interested to hear about their efforts in this area.

Key Learnings

  1. Participants will gain knowledge of resources available for starting a safe haven in their own community as well as gain knowledge on the various arrangements a safe haven for pet may use to ensure a pet’s safety.
  2. Participants will be able to apply the examples given to their local situation.
  3. Participants will appreciate the role that social media can play in reaching both users of the directory as well as with identifying and interfacing with the local and state domestic violence advocacy groups.