A woman facing domestic violence may decide that her only choice is to leave. But a surprising number of people in such dangerous circumstances refrain from fleeing because they worry they cannot take a beloved pet with them.
Often, that is the case. Most homeless or emergency shelters, for example, will not accept pets along with their families. In 2006, many victims of Hurricane Katrina refused to vacate their homes because they could not assure the safety of the family dog or cat.
Blair Warner and Jessica Katz, friends and classmates from Catholic University Law School’s Class of 2011, decided to do something about the situation.
Their solution was Safety Network for Abused Animals & People (SNAAP), founded by Warner in Washington, D.C. in January, 2011.
The nonprofit works with local domestic violence organizations to temporarily shelter pets of domestic violence survivors by placing them in confidential foster homes. The goal is to ensure that both the human and animal victims of domestic violence are safe from abuse.
More than 60% of American households have at least one pet, and nearly one in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime, there is an increasing need to accommodate pets.
The program stirred enough interest that Katz opened SNAAP’s second branch nine months later in Chicago.
Pets are typically placed with temporary foster families for about a month. The organization is also working on establishing a Pet Crisis Hotline and increased community outreach and education.
“We've both been trying to balance SNAAP with day jobs, but right now I'm trying to raise the money to apply for incorporation and tax exemption so that we can apply for more substantial grants and possibly be able to focus on SNAAP full-time,” Katz explains.