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AHS/Popcorn Park Assists Pets in Domestic Violence Cases



PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Roseann Trezza, Executive Director
973-824-7080
March 27, 2009

Unique One-of-a-Kind Program to Start in Some Monmouth County Towns
AHS/POPCORN PARK OFFERS PET PROTECTION IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES

ASSOCIATED HUMANE SOCIETIES/POPCORN PARK is reaching out to Monmouth County law enforcement agencies to assist police with animals caught in the crossfire of domestic violence.

Nationwide, domestic violence statistics are staggering, with somewhere between 1 and 3 million acts being committed each year. Studies have shown that about 86 percent of abused women and children said they were reluctant to leave their homes because of pets either being left behind or being used as pawns. Most of those surveyed say their pets had been abused in the homes, as well.

Noel and Chip were brought to Popcorn Park to safely stay after ongoing domestic violence prompted their owner and her children to flee their home and move to a safe house.

To help police deal with animals in these homes, and give victims more assurances that their pets are being cared for, AHS has offered to the police departments a unique one-of-a-kind program. Upon request of the officers embroiled in a crises situation, a Society staffer would meet police at the location to take possession of the animals and remove the pets. They would be cared for at one of the Society's facilities or at an undisclosed location, depending upon the severity of the crises. This will be done at no charge for one month.

“These animals are family members. Knowing that loved ones are being cared for often empowers victims to take steps forward in their lives,” said Roseann Trezza, Executive Director, Associated Humane Societies/Popcorn Park. “Through this free service victims will have time to make other arrangements, find another place to live and get back on their feet. Society representatives would be available to calm any concerns that the victims may have concerning the safety and confidentiality of the location of their pets.”

If, after a month passes and the family is still unable to care for or take the pet back, the animal would be placed for adoption.

So important is this program, Ms. Trezza says, that AHS is hoping foundations or philanthropic organizations that deal with women's issues/domestic violence programs would help to financially support the program so that this effort can be expanded to other municipalities serviced by AHS. It is also hoped that animal welfare groups throughout the state -- and the nation will work with their local social service agencies to help protect people and their pets.

“Over the past several years we have saved between 15 and 20 pets that have been brought to our shelters either by victims of domestic violence, or friends and family members advocating on their behalf. We have also treated animals at our Medical Departments that had been stabbed or otherwise victimized. There are also many deceased animals that pass through our doors without information, but with signs that show they could have came from abusive homes. By partnering with police, we hope to give victims of domestic violence peace of mind that their pets won’t be victimized as well,” Ms. Trezza said. “It is our hope that other shelters and humane societies across the nation would be interested in providing similar assistance to families in crisis in their area.”

Domestic violence is one of the most dangerous areas to get involved in with lay people. If a neighbor, a teacher or someone else believes violence is going on in the house, they should report it to the proper agencies. AHS will only go in with police officers upon request.

3/27/2009

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