October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and many victims fear that their abuser will retaliate and harm a beloved pet if they leave. With as few as 10 percent of domestic violence shelters accepting pets into their facilities, victims often delay escaping to protect their animals.

PetSmart Charities is continuing to support the movement to keep survivors and their pets together when seeking safety and shelter. Funding supports an array of programs such as pet-friendly domestic violence shelters, deposits for pet-friendly housing, emergency pet boarding and other initiatives to ensure pets and people remain together when they need stability and companionship the most.

“An overwhelming number of victims in shelters report their abusers threatened, injured and even killed pets as means of controlling their behavior,” said Aimee Gilbreath, president of PetSmart Charities. “The love and companionship given by a pet is so comforting to someone who has been through pain and trauma. We want human services agencies to know that empowering survivors means supporting their pets, too. Making provisions for pets at shelters removes one more barrier when facing the difficult decision to escape. And in some cases, it means saving lives.”

PetSmart Charities has delivered nearly $3 million in grant funding under the Preserving Families Initiative. The mission of the grant funding aims to keep people and pets together in times of crises. The unique movement seeks to support animal and human services agencies for those fleeing domestic abuse, the unsheltered, those too ill to care for their pets and LGBTQ+ youth facing housing instability. A few include:

• Nuzzles & Co, Salt Lake City/Park City, Utah: $80,000 will support the Purple Paw Program for victims experiencing domestic violence with pet sheltering and intervention services to support the resolution of the human crisis with a goal of serving an estimated 175 people and their pets.

• City of Chicago: $100,000 will support the Chicago Emergency Pet Preservation Program to provide pet intervention services and supplies for persons experiencing domestic abuse, homelessness or at risk of homelessness with a goal of serving an estimated 1,000 people and their pets.

It will also support the second year of a pilot program that uses the city supported Domestic Violence hotline and coordinated entry system to offer financial assistance and boarding for both people and their pets for families attempting to flee or maintain independence.

• Ahimsa House Inc, Georgia: $101,000 will be used to upgrade their database and provide for insights research and a training model to help teach others how to do this. Funds are also allocated for operations of the program, which is primarily database and connection-making for pet intervention services and sheltering for persons experiencing domestic violence, with a goal of serving an estimated 435 people and their pets.

PetSmart Charities will receive the Trailblazer Award this month from the Urban Resource Institute (URI) in New York. URI works to end cycles of poverty, domestic violence, homelessness and trauma. Since 2019, PetSmart Charities delivered more than $570,000 in grants and program sponsorships to URI in support of support documenting and spreading their model. In New York, URI’s are the only shelters that co-house people and pets.