by Renee Santos

A program called Pets Are Survivors Too (PAST), a partnership with SafeNest and The Animal Foundation, aims to help the pets of those escaping domestic violence.
The reason for the program, according to SafeNest CEO Liz Ortenburger, is to give pets involved in violent relationships a loving place to stay while they and their owners recover.
“65 percent of domestic violence victims won’t leave their abuser if there is a pet involved,” Ortenburger said, adding that roughly 71 percent of the time, pets are abused too.
Kelly Leahy with The Animal Foundation says it would be short-term commitment for volunteer foster families to care for the pets for up to five months. This is similar to the average stay of survivors in shelters.
“Without partnerships like this, more animals would end up at the shelter. In fact, animals at the shelter today could very well be the victims of domestic violence,” Leahy explained. “We are seeing a pattern where people stay in these destructive relationships to protect the pets, so it makes absolute sense that we would [want] the entire family to flee to safety, and that includes the pets.”
Ortenburger sees change with the new program, saying it gives survivors the confidence and peace of mind the need while on the path to healing.
She said, “It makes absolute sense and a beautiful partnership to be able to provide safe haven for a pet for a victim of domestic violence who is fleeing abuse.”
There is an open house on Sept. 5 for people who are interested in volunteering.
It is at Safe Nest TADC, 3900 Meadows Lane, and runs from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.