PetSmart Charities commits $2.1 million to keep domestic abuse survivors and their pets together

October 14, 2020
dvm360 Staff

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.

Editor's note: This article includes a discussion about domestic violence. If you're experiencing domestic violence of any kind, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE [7233]; It's 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls are free and confidential.

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (in October), PetSmart Charities has committed $2.1 million towards keeping domestic violence survivors and their pets together during these unprecedented times. The funding supports 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 the coronavirus, domestic violence victims are now trapped with their abuser, according to a company release. Every minute, an estimated 20 people suffer from abuse — and with as few as 10% of domestic violence shelters accepting pets— survivors are faced with heartbreaking and dangerous decisions. In fact, nearly half of all domestic violence victims remain in abusive relationships in fear of what may happen to their pets if they’re left behind.

“Not only are pets a common reason why victims delay leaving their abusers, [but] animal abuse is also 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 the US and Canada including:

  • The Urban Resource Institute (URI), located in New York City, received a $100,000 grant to help transform the lives of domestic violence survivors and homeless families, with a special focus on communities of color and vulnerable populations. URI says the grant will be used to expand its People and Animals Safely (PALS) program. Two new shelter facilities will be added to serve an additional 140 clients and their pets.
  • Street Outreach Animal Response (SOAR), located in Indianapolis, is using its $65,000 grant to support the Crisis Response Program, providing emergency placement and services to an estimated 670 pets and people experiencing domestic violence, homelessness, medical/mental conditions, or other displacements.
  • Nellie’s Woman Shelter, located In Toronto, received a $50,000 grant to support its pet-friendly program, which provides case management, services, and supplies to people and pets fleeing domestic violence.

To learn more about PetSmart Charities, go here.