There are many reasons a victim of domestic violence may opt not to go to a shelter or safe house, but now the fear of abandoning a pet doesn't have to be one of them. Thanks to a newly-formed partnership between the Domestic Violence Crisis Center and Outreach to Pets in Need (OPIN), foster care services will be available for pets whose owners enter the DVCC's SafeHouses in Stamford or Norwalk.
Cyndy Goldberg, the Director of the DVCC SafeHouses, said that several women each year choose not to come to a DVCC SafeHouse because of their pets and that there are undoubtedly others who don't even call because they know they can't bring their pets.
"This partnership is so important for victims of domestic abuse who have pets and fear for their safety," said Goldberg. "It's heartbreaking when a woman who needs and wants a safe place to stay decides not to come to us because there is no way to accommodate her pet."
Because the program is so new, OPIN's immediate goal is to build a network of people who are willing to open their homes to a pet for a temporary stay.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to reach out to those in need, both human victims and those they deeply care about, the companion animals who have found a place in their hearts," said OPIN Co-founder Jenny Colucci. "OPIN will coordinate the foster home and provide medical care, food and supplies, if necessary. But it goes without saying that without foster homes, this exciting opportunity cannot exist."
The program will be overseen by OPIN's SafePet Program Coordinator, who will work with potential foster care providers and act as the liaison between them and DVCC SafeHouse staff. Applications to join the SafePet foster network may be found on the OPIN web site (www.opinpets.org) or by emailing the program coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outreach to Pets in Need was founded in March 2007 with the mission to decrease the population of homeless pets through medical, training, education and placement programs. The organization works collaboratively with the Stamford Animal Care and Control Shelter.