Community Outreach Project: Animals in Crisis (PetSafe)
Janice Sojka and Alan Beck
Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine
The Center for the Human-Animal Bond coordinates a program to help the YWCA, which provides shelter for women who must immediately leave their homes because of domestic violence. The shelter cannot take in companion animals, and often women are conflicted about leaving their home or remain in an unsafe situation because they are worried about their animals; sometimes women risk personal injury becuase of their need to return home to care for and feed their animals. The humane society is overcrowded and has no facilities in which to provide short-term housing for pets owned by families which have lost their homes due to fire or other natural disasters.
Currently there is no mechanism to provide for the short-term care and housing of the pets owned by families in crisis who reside in the counties surrounding Purdue University. To meet this community need, the faculties of the Schools of Veterinary Medicine and Anthropology and Sociology wish to operate PetSafe; a student run program that provides veterinary care and housing for animals owned by families in crisis. The PetSafe program is designed to provide an opportunity for Veterinary and Anthropology students to become involved in their community.
The program will also identify the role of pets in families experiencing crisis and document the benefits to familiesincrisis of providing a safe place for their companion animals. Participating students will also receive information about the larger issues of animal abuse, battered women, child abuse, displaced individuals, and volunteerism.
The program will train veterinary students to identify animal abuse or neglect and learn the veterinary and social skills needed to deal with this growing issue. Recognizing animal abuse is viewed as one way to identify abusive family situations before women and children become seriously injured.
Are you in a domestic violence situation? You are not alone, and help is available! Call the YWCA's 24-hour domestic violence hotline at 765-423-1118 or toll free at 1-888-345-1118. Read about the YWCA's services, including safe shelter, protective orders, 9-1-1 cell phones, and support groups, at www.ywca.org/lafayette/dv