Purple Paw-Helps Domestic Violence Victims & Pets

Aug 4, 2014

Reaching out to more Shelters

Purple Paw Photo
Purple Paw Photo

With Friends of Animals Utah's Purple Paw Project continued success, the greater is the demand to provide more services.

In partnership with local and nearby shelters, we currently provide rescue and boarding of cats and dogs to numerous survivors of domestic violence.  Women and their children need time to focus on their recovery and time to build a new life. While Domestic Violence Shelters are there to assist these victim every step of the way, FOAU is there to help the animals.  Animals are victims too and also need a lot of rehabilitation. 

Our reputation for providing excellent care of the animals we are entrusted with and our willingness to go the extra mile (literally) to colllaborate with shelters and their clients has grown.  Word is getting out that Friends of Animals Utah is there to help - always.  We are proud of this and wish to continue to provide extraordinary service and hope to accomodate this incresing demand but we need help.

Our biggest challenge at this time in being able to expand our network is transportation.  We need to recruit and train more volunteers to assist with the picking up and delivering of the pets.  We are looking at a variety of ways to facilitate this. We also need more boarding space and to recruit and train more foster families.

With your help and generous donations, we can acheive our goal of expanding our Purple Paw services to a greater geographic area and thereby help more women, children and pets in need.


May 5, 2014

Offering a solution

Most shelters for Domestic Violence Victims do not, or cannot, accept pets. 

Women in the turmoil because of a domestic abuse situation are faced with unbearable decisions.  Saving themselves is the easy part of the equation, but what about their children, what about their pets?  We all know that pets are family members; children consider them siblings and emotionally rely on that unconditional love and affection. Women without children can have an even deeper relationship with their pets and have the strong nurturing need to protect them. Confused,  women often remain in the abusive, life threatening situation to save their pet.  Unfortunately, this is inevitably a devastating outcome for all concerned, the woman, children… and the pet.

Friends of Animals Utah’s (FOAU) Purple Paw program offers the solution that can literally save lives. FOAU partners with all Utah Domestic Violence shelters to provide safe, loving and protective care for these pets.  We give free medical care, tons of love and attention from our caregivers and unlimited visitation for the women and their children.  We take the pets when the women seek shelter until the time they are ready to be reuinited with their pets. We also offer weekly updates including photo’s and videos which has been most effective in reassuring women that their pets are safe & loved while they hide from danger and find new homes

FOAU’s Purple Paw program is free to the women who need it but does require substantial funds to support. Funds we raise mostly through special events. We supply medical care, transport, food & board.  Animal housing for this program also limits FOAU’s ability to rescue and adoption out other animals.

We have a special Purple Paw fund and any donations to this fund is used specifically to shetler the pets of women in domestic abuse situations.  Please help us help them.

Claire Desilets - FOAU Coordinator, Purple Paw 

Feb 4, 2014

Purple Paw Update

When the only way out is through, you still might need a place to stop and heal along the way. Women and children fleeing domestic violence ( DV ) situations frequently have no time to plan their escape. The decision is quick and immediate, many leaving with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Add a beloved pet to the equation, and the difficulty becomes even greater.

The Purple Paw Project is a unique program serving Utah for almost 2 years. In that time 27 families and 39 pets have been aided, receiving shelter, any general or critical medical care, but most of all, the ability to finally end the cycle of violence and sense of entrapment. The Purple Paw gives women and children a place to house their pets while staying in DV shelters.   Friends of Animals Utah works side by side with caseworkers, DV advocates, and police departments to assist families in making safe and smooth transitions to new and better lives. This would be impossible were there not available housing for the families’ dogs and cats. The women report a sense of helplessness, feeling trapped and hopeless when faced with finding temporary pet housing prior to the project’s inception. Now that obstacle to escape no longer exists.

This year we added additional foster families to meet the increased requests for assistance in housing these pets. Furthermore, we found many needed the stability of a familiar family setting as they had been traumatized previously. The dogs and cats require love and attention daily from specially trained fosters who could gently earn back their trust and teach them to be playful, friendly pets again. Visitation by owners is still a vital part of the Purple Paw Project and we make arrangements for owners to spend time with their pets whenever possible.

All pets are spayed or neutered, receive an update on vaccines, and any other medical care they might require. One dog required emergency care to save a damaged and painful eye. Due to our help, the dog regained full use of the eye and complete vision was restored.   Several pets needed care for gastrointestinal disease secondary to stress and poor nutrition. This included IV fluids, medication and round the clock nursing in our on site medical suite.

While anonymity is of paramount importance, we do occasionally receive word from families once they have relocated. We heard last month from someone who let us know that she and her dog were safe in another state and that she was taking her dog to be groomed! She was thankful for the opportunity that Purple Paw gave her to get away from a dangerous situation with her beloved pet and wanted us to know that her life and the life of her dog was once again happy and looking positive.

The first of year of service cost more than $50,000 to operate. The cost to families was NOTHING; free of charge. No one was turned away. Through donations and grant funding we continue to operate this critically needed program at Friends of Animals Utah and save the lives of those needing our help.

Lisa Allison

Executive Director, FOAU

Nov 15, 2013

Purple Paw Update Report

Cats and dogs aren’t the central statistic in domestic violence research but they are a key factor as to why women may choose to remain or delay leaving a violent situation.  As we move more fully into the second year of the Purple Paw Project we continually find that almost anything can be an obstacle or barrier to flight, and we have to modify how we provide assistance. 

Studies have shown that as many as 54% of women in abusive relationships reported that their partner had hurt or killed one or more of their pets.  This shows an obvious need for shelter for these pets, and thus we created the project.  But how do they reach us?   That may be the biggest obstacle next to making the decision to leave.  Many
families have no transportation or once they arrive at the domestic violence shelter cannot get the pet to us.  After
seeing many women unable to reach safety due to transportation issues regarding their pets, we are currently working to overcome this obstacle by offering methods to get the pets to us from the shelters.  We have, in the past, arranged for dogs to meet their owners when families found it necessary to flee the state to safety.

Another barrier is fear that their pet will forget them while staying with us.  Many clients speak about loneliness during separation and concern that their pet will be sad or unhappy.  We encourage visits during the time we are offering shelter and if possible, the family can sign the pet out for the day and return in the afternoon. We make every effort to maintain as much normal activity for all involved so as not to create undue stress. Foster families have been implemented so pets who stay for longer periods of time can do so in a home setting, further reducing stress.

As we move forward, 13 families have already been served with 17 pets, for a total of 637 nights of shelter. We foresee a need for more resources on every level with the exponential growth of the program. We remain the only means of escape for many families, a fact that urges us on every day.  

Lisa Allison

Executive Director, Friends of Animals Utah

Aug 26, 2013

Purple Paw Update Report

What About the Pets?

The Purple Paw Project

Statistics clearly show that domestic violence offenders often have a pattern of abuse involving all members of the household – spouses, children and pets. Victims of domestic violence who seek to escape their abusers and find shelter for themselves and their children often do not know what to do with their beloved pets because many shelters do not have the means to housethem.  As a result, many victims remain in abusive homes out of fear--fear of subjecting their animals to possible cruelty if left behind. Friends of Animals Utah (FOAU), a non-profit organization, has a solution for this problem: The Purple Paw Project.

Launched in 2012, and funded through grants and a significant private donation, The Purple Paw Project offers support services to domestic violence victims when they seek sanctuary in a shelter that is unable to accept pets. Initially partnering with the Summit County Domestic Violence Coalition, the program is now available to every domestic violence shelter in Northern Utah.  The project provides a temporary home for the pets, allowing victims and their children to seek shelter, medical treatment, and counseling along with assurance that their pets are safe. For the entire period that the client is a resident at a domestic violence shelter, FOAU provides boarding, food, water, medication, daily socialization and exercise for the pet--free of charge. FOAU also accepts animals any time, day or night. When the family finds a safe living situation, their pet is returned to them. Unfortunately, pets may have to be relinquished by their owners. FOAU will then find new homes for them.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence cites alarming statistics, including the following:  71% of pet owners entering domestic violence shelters report that their batterer had threatened, injured, or killed family pets; 85% of domestic violence shelters report that they commonly encounter women who speak about pet abuse incidents; 52% of victims in shelters left their pets with their batterers; and abusers may harm pets to punish the victim for leaving or in attempts to coerce him/her to return. For these reasons and more, FOAU is committed to providing support for the victims of domestic abuse, their families, and their pets. 

Since its inception in 2012, The Purple Paw Project has provided assistance to many families in Utah victimized by
domestic violence.  Starting with 2-4 pets per month, the program has grown with as many as 5 pets being sheltered at a time.  In the first year of the program, FOAU provided 843 shelter/nights of safety and care for these pets.  The pets are typically housed between one week to 4 months depending on the situation. Additionally, FOAU will treat those pets needing medical care at no charge.  To help relieve their stress and fear, families may visit their pets, taking their dog for a walk or cuddling with their cat.

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Project Leader

Charlene Brewster

Park City, Utah United States

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