The Purple Paw Project continues to expand and grow. FOAU never expected to play the role of teacher when we opened our doors to victims escaping domestic abuse situations, but that’s exactly where we find ourselves almost one year later. For example, veterinarians are starting to play a larger role in the reporting of abuses of all kinds. They are learning to look for warning signs of cruelty in pets. If there is a household where many animals live but none ever reach adulthood, then flags are raised. A more obvious sign is injuries to pets that don’t match up to the story being told by the pet owner.
Dogs and cats are the silent victims. We have begun working with local enforcement agencies to educate them not only about the program but how to look for more subtle signs of animal abuse. One dog currently in the program is terrified of men. She cowers and whines if a man just enters the room. Not every wound bleeds, but they all leavescars. Through patient work and loving care, the Purple Paw Project is healing the bodies and minds of this gentlesoul and others like her. We see new families every month requiring shelter from harm. As they enter our embrace, we offer not only medical care, healthy meals, and a safe, warm place to sleep, but freedom from harm. For every dog and cat, we are the first gentle touch they have felt in months or even years.
One of the last women to use our services cried when she picked up her dog. She left him a scared, subdued puppy. She returned almost three months later to a playful, social companion who barked and licked her face,running and engaging with other people and pets. “ I can’t believe this is my baby! It’s a miracle! You gave us both back our lives! “
The Purple Paw Project reaches across the state of Utah and into the dark corners where violence hides. We offer hope in the form of assistance to families seeking safety from abusers who would threaten not only them and their children but their pets as well. Every day we open our doors to a pet damaged by domestic violence, we come one step closer to ending this awful cycle.
Executive Director, Friends of Animals Utah
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