Domestic violence shelter to add pet-friendly rooms

·3 min read

Jan. 14—Dottie Bromley has aimed for many years to bring more pet-friendly services to survivors of domestic violence who are fleeing abusive situations and seeking shelter at Amity House.

As executive director of Glynn Community Crisis Center, which runs the shelter, Bromley often sees how important this kind of service is to women, men and their children who are victims of abuse. Pets are an important source of emotional support and are members of the family that cannot be abandoned.

"Many victims will not leave their abusive situation and leave that pet behind because that pet's already been abused in some fashion," she said. "It's been used to control the victim."

During previous work out of state with the humane society, Bromley saw firsthand how crucial pet-friendly services are for survivors of domestic violence.

"Our staff worked with the domestic violence task force there, and if somebody had to move out and get away, somebody from our staff would meet them on site and get their pets to our shelter where we would house them at no charge for six to eight weeks, sometimes longer if necessary, until that family could get re-homed and stabilized," Bromley recalled.

Since moving to Glynn County, she has hoped to bring pet-friendly services to abuse victims in this area, and several partnerships are now making that vision a reality.

Renovation work will begin this spring to create a pet-friendly shelter.

Greater Good Charities' Rescue Rebuild shelter renovation program and RedRover's animal charity program are providing funding, design and labor to renovate two of Amity House's four family rooms to be pet-friendly. The work will include the installation of dog/cat doors and the creation of a private pet relief area connected to the room, as well as a play area.

The crisis center has a longstanding partnership with Ahimsa House, a nonprofit based in Atlanta that coordinates foster families throughout the state who can care for pets.

Ahimsa will also provide training to the shelter's staff to help them best support shelter residents with pet care.

Other partnerships supporting this new pet-friendly initiative are veterinarian Dr. Nicola Overman and Castaways Pet Rescue Inc., who will provide other needed services for the pets.

Nearly 70% of pet owners who enter a domestic violence shelter report that their abusers threatened, injured or killed a family pet, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and more than half of domestic violence victims and their children report that their pets are an important source of emotional support.

"Most of us don't want to put our pets into foster care, and we sure as heck are not going to leave them behind," Bromley said.

The Glynn Community Crisis Center provides many types of support to abuse victims, including a housing assistance program, assistance with legal bills and victim compensation and access to legal support and to counseling.

The addition of pet-friendly services will be especially important for the emotional well-being of those the shelter serves, Bromley said.

"It makes their life easier," she said. "Pets provide emotional support for the pet parent. It helps that pet parent not feel so alone and stranded."

To learn more about the crisis center, visit https://www.amityhouse-gccc.com/.

The center's annual fundraiser, A Taste of Glynn, will take place from 5-8 p.m. Sunday at the King & Prince Resort on St. Simons. Tickets can be purchased online at www.atasteofglynn.com/.

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