C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Annual Walk Against Abuse Supports Pet Families Exposed to Domestic Violence

Every hour of every day in the United States alone, hundreds of people and their companion animals suffer abuse. Animal cruelty is strongly correlated with violence against people, and pets are often used as “pawns” in domestic violence situations to prevent family members from speaking up or leaving the abusive relationship. In fact, survivors stay on average two years longer in a violent home if there’s a family pet involved.

This is why C.A.R.E.4Paws invites the animal-loving community to kick off Domestic Violence Awareness Month by Walking Against Abuse on Sunday, October 1, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m, at Elings Park in Santa Barbara. The annual event raises funds and awareness for Safe Haven, a C.A.R.E.4Paws program that provides anonymous boarding or foster care for pets of domestic violence survivors. Safe Haven was launched in 2020 alongside several animal welfare partners and social welfare agencies, including Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County (DVS), to ensure pet owners can leave abusive partners and seek emergency shelter through DVS or a similar agency without fearing for the safety and well-being of their beloved pets.

Walk Against Abuse is a family-friendly event that includes a dog walk through beautiful Elings Park, fun activities for kids and adults, food, music and a presentation about how Safe Haven prevents suffering and saves lives, as well as how to become a Safe Haven foster family. Entry is $25 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. Plus, several sponsor opportunities allow community members and local businesses to support the event and Safe Haven expenses, such as pet boarding fees, animal training, pet food, vaccines, spays/neuters, medical care and pet housing deposits.

“Domestic violence is everywhere around us, crossing all social and economic boundaries and education levels,” says C.A.R.E.4Paws’ cofounder and executive director Isabelle Gullö, who adds that there’s a proven link between family violence and animal cruelty. Abuse often starts with a pet to control other family members and, because it’s difficult for survivors to find shelter with their companion animals, many stay in the abusive home to protect their pets, she says. “Safe Haven provides a much-needed refuge for vulnerable pets, while giving their loving owners a chance to escape the violence. C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Walk Against Abuse allows the community to come together to raise awareness and support for a truly critical cause and program.”

Many Safe Haven pets stay with C.A.R.E.4Paws for several months or sometimes longer than a year, as it is difficult for survivors to rebuild their lives, let alone find pet-friendly housing. In addition to DVS, other program collaborators include the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office Victim-Witness Assistance Program and Good Samaritan Shelters, whose advocates are trained to help survivors of abuse. Survivors can also contact C.A.R.E.4Paws directly for help.

To learn more about the event and ticket/sponsor options, visit the Walk Against Abuse event website. For more information about C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Safe Haven program, visit care4paws.org/safehaven or contact C.A.R.E.4Paws at info@care4paws.org or 805-968-2273.

About C.A.R.E.4Paws

C.A.R.E.4Paws—short for Community Awareness, Responsibility & Education—works to reduce pet overpopulation, keep animals out of shelters and improve quality of life for pet families in need. Its critical services include free and low-cost spays/neuters, veterinary care and vaccine events in C.A.R.E.4Paws’ own mobile veterinary clinics; distribution of pet food and supplies; support for pet families exposed to domestic violence through Safe Haven; Paws Up For Pets humane education; and Pet Emergency Training (P.E.T.) for First Responders. C.A.R.E.4Paws has worked in Santa Barbara County since 2009 and, in 2022, the nonprofit expanded its mobile clinic services to San Luis Obispo County. To learn more or to make a contribution, visit care4paws.org.


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