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PAWS Act Federal Grants Now Available to Domestic Violence Shelters


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Domestic violence shelters now have access to $2 million in federal grants to help increase pet-friendly options for domestic violence survivors. The funding is through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Emergency and Transitional Pet Shelter and Housing Assistance Grant Program, made possible by the passage of the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act in 2018.

The efforts have been supported by the PAWS Act Coalition, a group of nonprofit and for-profit organizations, including Nestlé Purina PetCare, the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), Noah’s Animal House, Pet Partners, the Urban Resource Institute (URI) and RedRover.

“The PAWS Act funding and new grants mark an important milestone in keeping more pets and their families together,” said Nina Leigh Krueger, president of Nestlé Purina PetCare. “Purina is committed to continuing to work alongside our partners to increase the number of pet-friendly domestic violence shelters so families and their pets can safely leave an abusive situation and heal together.”

The availability of funds come at a critical time, said Steven Feldman, executive director of HABRI.

“With incidents of domestic violence increasing as a result of coronavirus stay-at-home orders, the need for pet-friendly sheltering will also grow, and this funding could not have come at a better time,” Feldman said. “HABRI is proud to have participated in this two-plus year effort to support the successful implementation of the lifesaving PAWS Act. The PAWS Act Coalition and many in the greater pet care community have worked hard to make this grant program a reality.”

The DOJ will provide up to five grants of $400,000 each, to begin on October 1. The primary goal of this funding is to support shelter and transitional housing services for survivors of domestic violence and their companion animals, officials said. With these grants, the DOJ seeks to increase the number of shelter beds and transitional housing options to meet the needs of domestic violence survivors who need shelter or housing for them and their companion animals, officials added.

Funding will also provide training to local stakeholders on the link between domestic violence and the abuse and neglect of companion animals; the needs of domestic violence survivors; best practices for providing, or referring, support services to such survivors; and best practices in designing and delivering services that protect survivors confidentiality, according to officials.

The DOJ, through the Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), will accept applications for this grant program through May 29. The PAWS Act Coalition will work to share this funding opportunity as widely as possible so that worthy organizations are informed and can apply, officials said.

Two of these organizations, Noah’s Animal House and Urban Resource Institute, are part of the only 10 percent of domestic violence shelters across the country that actively offer co-shelter services to keep both pets and their owners away from the dangers of domestic abuse, officials noted. Together these two organizations have saved more than 1,800 pets from abusive conditions, so that no domestic violence survivor is forced to choose between staying in an abusive relationship and leaving their pet with their abuser, officials said.

“RedRover works to strengthen and preserve the human-animal bond by providing financial assistance, resources and support to low-income individuals and survivors of domestic violence and their pets, so families can escape together and stay together,” said Nicole Forsyth, RedRover president and CEO. “As we’ve seen through the RedRover + Purina Purple Leash Project, grants to domestic violence shelters help fulfill a lifesaving need of keeping pets and people together, and this PAWS Act funding will help build on our efforts and expand the options available for domestic violence survivors with pets.”

Domestic violence shelters can apply for funding here.

 

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