Young woman hugging her dog.

“Why don’t you leave?”

“There are plenty of places you can go.”

“I don’t understand why you are staying in this situation. You have so many options.”

Those words hit deep. They seem so clear – so easy.

But if you’ve ever been a victim of domestic violence, you know that those words are scary because they are true. A victim of abuse may be able to overcome doubts about their ability to make it on their own, not being supported by those who love them, or not being able to take care of children. But, there is one thing many well-meaning friends and family members don’t address. Often, there is one family member the victim worries they will never be able to provide for – their pet.

The American Veterinary Medical Association understands the human-animal bond which has existed for thousands of years. According to its website, “the human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors essential to the health and well-being of both.”  

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute has documented some of the invaluable ways pets change our lives and improve mental health. The Institute cites pet ownership as improving quality of life through social support, reducing depression, and improving life satisfaction. Pets can help reduce loneliness and social isolation, but they also provide a stability that people who are in a domestically violent environment need to thrive.

However, when a partner threatens to harm a pet or when there are no options to take a pet with them, many victims choose to stay rather than risk the loss of or an injury to an animal that many consider more family than pet.

Unfortunately, most shelters are unable to take animals into the shelters with their owners.

“It is a matter of space and services,” S.A.F.E. House Nevada Executive Director Beth Flory explained. “We are not set up for housing pets, but we know how important it is to provide care for these family members. … We partner with animal boarding facilities so, while clients are getting their life in order in our shelter, their pets are close-by, and they can visit with them daily if they want. … It is really a wonderful thing.”

Alliance Foundation recognizes how unique this opportunity is, and the nonprofit already has donated $20,000 to S.A.F.E. House to assist more victims of domestic violence in feeling empowered to take that first step to a brighter future and begin walking that path to prosperity.

“I am beyond thankful for your service,” One of S.A.F.E. House’s clients said, “My dog is our family, and I would never leave him with anybody who is abusive to them. I was really nervous because I couldn’t find anybody who would take care of him. Again, I am very grateful for your service, so I don’t have to worry about him while I am going through this very hard time of my life.”

“Words cannot express how truly grateful I am to have assistance boarding our beloved puppy,” another client said. “The thought of leaving her behind in such a toxic environment was something my heart just could not bear.”

The client further explained how she would have left earlier, but her dog is her, “protector and a true best friend. She is a survivor alongside me and my baby girl. With all the stress and trauma that comes with domestic violence, just knowing our girl was safe and cared for means the world to me and was one less thing my heart had to worry about.”

Flory said that she was grateful to Alliance Foundation for their donation allowing S.A.F.E. House to provide shelter for animals as well as basic medical care for them.

“It is one less thing they need to worry about,” she said. “And we are so thankful that we are able to help them because of these generous donations. We are thankful for what Alliance Foundation has done for S.A.F.E. House.”

For those who have managed to escape, the ability to provide shelter for their pet is more powerful than words can adequately explain.

“The kindness the community has shown us in this hard time is something I will be grateful for every day of my life. I am overwhelmed with appreciation and thanks to this wonderful community…,” the client continued. “You have no idea the impact this had on our lives.”

But Alliance Foundation knows. It sees the impact S.A.F.E. House has made. And we invite you to see it, too. When you donate to Alliance Foundation, you contribute to immediate needs in the area – helping make Las Vegas a better place to grow.  You allow clients like those who’ve shared their stories to feel seen and be given hope.

To be a part of something bigger and to assist everyone in having access to food, shelter, and emotional support.

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