Safe Voices awarded $20,000 to build pet-friendly emergency housing for survivors

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Safe Voices’ new domestic abuse emergency shelter in Franklin County will be pet friendly, thanks in part to a $20,000 grant from RedRover. Photo by Grace Kendall/Safe Voices

FARMINGTON – Safe Voices has received a $20,000 Safe Housing grant from national animal welfare nonprofit RedRover to ensure the agency’s newest domestic abuse emergency shelter will be pet-friendly. The new shelter, which will begin accepting residents in early 2023, is located in Farmington. It is the only domestic abuse shelter serving this rural and underserved area, and having it equipped to welcome pets makes it much more accessible to survivors.

“Safe Voices knows the power of animals to help people heal, and it’s so important to us to ensure that survivors entering our shelter are able to do so with the pet they know, love, and will bring them comfort,” said Safe Voices Director of Shelter & Housing Noelle Coyne. “These animals have often been subject to the abuser’s mistreatment, so having a pet friendly shelter is not just good for survivors – it’s also safest for pets – and we’re so grateful to work with RedRover, because they understand all of that.”

Pets and Domestic Violence:

– As many as 71% of pet-owning women entering domestic abuse shelters report their abuser injured, killed, or threatened family pets.

– Up to 48% of domestic abuse victims reported delaying leaving their abusers for fear of what would happen if they had to leave their pets behind.

– Currently, only 15% of domestic abuse shelters nationwide can house pets.

Safe Voices’ Androscoggin County shelter became the first pet-friendly domestic abuse shelter in the state of Maine in 2019, thanks in part to another RedRover grant. With this newest $20,000 grant, Safe Voices’ new location in Franklin County will create four pet- friendly rooms equipped with special pet furnishings, which will have direct access to an outdoor fenced area for playtime and pet relief. The shelter will be able to shelter cats, dogs, fish, small mammals, and “pocket pets” (hamsters, mice, and rats).

RedRover President and CEO Nicole Forsyth said, “Pets are family and a source of great comfort at a time of crisis. We’re thrilled our grant can help Safe Voices provide spaces for survivors and their beloved pets so that they can begin their healing process together.”

Since its inception in 2012, RedRover has awarded more than $3 million in Safe Housing grants across the country.

Safe Voices is a domestic abuse and sex trafficking resource center serving survivors in Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford Counties. Last year, the agency worked with over 2,000 unique survivors in these counties to help them safety plan, access shelter, work with legal and civil advocates, and work through emergent crises as well as the ongoing, long-term effects of domestic abuse and sex trafficking. The agency has been doing this work in Maine since 1977.

Safe Voices has free, anonymous and confidential support services accessible on their website at safevoices.org/. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, contact emergency services. 

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