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Safe spaces for survivors and their pets

dvm360dvm360 November 2023
Volume 54
Issue 11
Pages: 21

Katie Campbell shares how RedRover is helping individuals experiencing domestic violence keep their pets and maintain the human-animal bond while also keeping them and their pets out of harm’s way

Editor’s note: This article discusses domestic violence. If you are experiencing domestic violence and need help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit https://www.thehotline.org/.

Katie Campbell and Bryna Campbell, vice president of Pets Programs at Greater Good Charities, and RedRover's Good Charities' Rescue Rebuild lead partner.

Katie Campbell and Bryna Campbell, vice president of Pets Programs at Greater Good Charities, and RedRover's Good Charities' Rescue Rebuild lead partner.

When individuals who experience domestic violence are escaping from abusers, taking their pets with them can be a challenge. Because not many domestic violence shelters are pet friendly, survivors may be faced with the difficult decision of leaving their beloved pet behind and risk their pet facing abuse or staying with an abuser to be with the pet and protect them.

Recognizing a need to provide them with a pet-friendly safe space, Katie Campbell, director of collaboration and outreach for RedRover, and the organization’s entire team are working on its 25 by 2025 campaign, which has a goal to get 25% of domestic violence shelters in the United States pet friendly by 2025.

The campaign is working closely with survivors, advocates, domestic violence shelters, industry partners such as PetSmart Charities and Purina, and other supporters to raise awareness through resources, education, and links to funding. The 25 by 2025 campaign is aiming to help create spaces that support the safety and well-being of both the abuse survivors and their pets.

RedRover team members launching the 25 by 2025 campaign at NOVA in New Orleans, Louisiana

RedRover team members launching the 25 by 2025 campaign at NOVA in New Orleans, Louisiana

“Part of the reason why I love the 25 by 2025 campaign so much is because it [focuses] on the benefits of becoming pet friendly. We know there are barriers to becoming pet friendly,” Campbell said. “That’s why we created the Don’t Forget the Pets project with Greater Good Charities, to help walk organizations and communities through that process of creating a pet housing program.

“The 25 by 2025 campaign is so great because it really does focus on the positives, [as well as] how we can remove those barriers for survivors, how we can break that violence between humans and pets, and how we can help support the healing process for survivors,” she said.

Campbell with her cat

Campbell with her cat

Campbell has been around the veterinary industry for a long time because her mother was the president of their local humane society. As an adult, she began working in human services, most often with people who were survivors of domestic violence, but she never thought to combine her past and present until she began working at RedRover. That’s where she learned the true power of the human-animal bond and, with that, awareness about its effect on individuals who experienced abuse. She noted that she hopes this campaign will also spark something in others to help those who need it. Although she has never experienced abuse like the survivors who need these shelters have, Campbell knows how important the human-animal bond is to someone who is struggling.

“I don’t have personal experience with intimate domestic violence, but what I do have is experience [with the] human- animal bond and that really deep connection and trust that I had with my pets as a kid. My pets were the first beings that I ever came out to as LGBTQ+. I really understand that nonjudgmental [bond] and compassion...I can tell them anything and they’re still going to love me,” Campbell said.

“For me, that is what makes this [mission] so important to me. And for RedRover, we really are dedicated to helping bring people and pets out of crisis and into care. This feels like a really direct connection for us, and I think [that is] deep in our mission—to bring pets and their people out of crisis and into healing together,” she said.

To learn more about RedRover and the 25 by 2025 campaign, visit https://25by2025.org/.

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