The organization has distributed grants to animal welfare organizations and social services agencies throughout the US and Canada to help people fleeing domestic violence during COVID-19.
In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, PetSmart Charities announced in October its commitment of $2.1 million toward keeping domestic violence survivors and other at-risk individuals together with their pets during these unprecedented times. The funding is earmarked largely for pet-friendly domestic violence shelters, pet deposits for pet-friendly housing, emergency pet boarding, and other initiatives.
While quarantine protocols are designed to protect the public from spreading coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), they have also left many victims of domestic violence trapped with their abusers. An estimated 20 people suffer from abuse per minute in the United States,1 a number that is likely now much higher due to COVID-19. And with as few as 10% of domestic violence shelters accepting pets,2 many survivors are faced with heartbreaking and dangerous decisions. In fact, nearly half of all domestic violence victims remain in abusive relationships because they fear what may happen to their pet if they’re left behind.2
“Not only are pets a common reason why victims delay leaving their abusers, animal abuse is often the first indicator of domestic violence within a household,” says PetSmart Charities President Aimee Gilbreath. “As an Arizona-based organization, we’re proud to not only support our community, but communities across the US and Canada to provide resources that bridge the gap to a safer environment for both people and pets—especially during the pandemic.”
PetSmart Charities has administered grants to various organizations throughout North America, including the Urban Resource Institute in New York City, Street Outreach Animal Response in Indianapolis, Harbor House in Florida, and Nellie’s Woman Shelter in Toronto. To learn more, visit petsmartcharities.org.
1. What is intimate partner physical abuse? National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Accessed October 26, 2020. https://assets.speakcdn.com/assets/2497/domestic_violence_and_physical_abuse_ncadv.pdf
2. Did you know? Purina Purple Leash Project. Accessed October 26, 2020. https://www.purina.com/about-purina/purple-leash-project/the-issue