Gov. Ivey awards grant for pets of domestic violence victims
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT)– Like children, pets can often be caught in the middle of household issues or situations that can cause them distress and anxiety.
A program in the Birmingham area is looking out for those pets that are caught in the middle of domestic violence incidents. SafePet, a program created by the Humane Society of Shelby County, provides any care for animals whose owners are recovering from domestic abuse situations.
“What we do is try to eliminate pet ownership as a barrier for seeking help by someone who’s in a domestic violence situation. A lot of people are afraid to leave because they’re afraid to leave their pet because the pet has been abused or threatened or they go into a shelter or a relative’s home and they don’t have anywhere for their pet to go. We provide housing for the pet whether that be boarding or a foster situation. We provide any vaccinations that the pet needs and if there’s any urgent medical needs we can take care of that,” SafePet coordinator Heather Smith explained.
The program has been around since 2018 and has scaled down their areas of coverage in order to make their mission as manageable as possible.
“Previously, they were serving the entire state but it actually ended up being a little too much. Now we’ve kind of reduced it down to Jefferson, Shelby and Sinclair counties,” Smith said.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey was also looking out for pets in these kinds of situations as she awarded a grant of $52,000 to the Humane Society of Shelby County, who implemented the program. The funds for the grant were provided by the U.S. Department of Justice and will play a huge role in helping the program help others.
“The grant was actually provided through ADECO which is the Alabama Department of Economic and community affairs. It basically just provides all the funding we need to provide these services to those who need it in the community,” Smith said.
As many can be hesitant about opening up when it comes to domestic abuse, referrals can be made by those aware of these situations.
“We receive referrals from our community partners from our community partners like the domestic violence programs like their counselors or case managers,” Smith explained.
While the program’s organizers are aware that even though these people may leave to get help, they still love and care for their pet. This is why one of the end goals of the program is to reunite owners with their furry friends.
“Once someone has completed their treatment, we can help with pet deposits or pet food, crates, anything like that that they may need so they can be reunited with their pet,” Smith said.
If you know someone who could be positively impacted by the SafePet program or you just want some more information, their hotline is 1-888-926-1513.