NAHS offers safe haven for pets while families regroup
By Angie wood www.napervilleareahumanesociety.org March 18, 2013 6:14PM
Angie Wood submitted photo 2009
Updated: April 21, 2013 6:17AM
In 2012, Naperville Area Humane Society found new homes for 796 dogs, cats, puppies and kittens, giving each one high-quality care and a whole lot of love while they were in our shelter.
There is a smaller group of animals at the shelter throughout the year that also receive the same high standard of care but are not available for adoption. These pets are in our Safe Pets Program. This program offers a safe haven for pets involved in a domestic violence situation and need to find a place of protection while their human family members also find safety.
NAHS partners with local domestic violence shelters to communicate this service to families in need. In response to the economic downturn in recent years, this program has been expanded to also help families facing foreclosures or homelessness. The Safe Pets Program is a temporary respite that NAHS offers to families looking to find a safe environment for their pets while they make stable arrangements for their families.
During the last 14 years, the Safe Pets Program has provided temporary care for 133 pets. Last year we sheltered eight cats and 15 dogs, a 76 percent increase over 2011.
It has been documented that a woman in an abusive relationship will often delay getting help because of her concern for what will happen to her pets. An abusive person uses companion animals as a means of controlling the victim, harming or even killing the pet. Through the Safe Pets Program, we encourage these families to remove themselves, their children and their pets from the abusive situation. Knowing that their companion animals will be lovingly cared for at NAHS allows them to focus on finding a solution to their situation.
Although the animals in this program are kept at the shelter, they are not seen by the public and only cared for by staff members to make sure the information of their circumstances is kept confidential. They receive a lot of love and attention during their stay, as well as any veterinary care necessary, such as vaccinations, medications, spay/neutering and any emergency care required.
Families that use the Safe Pets Program rarely have the funds to reimburse NAHS for the cost of their pet’s needs, so we rely on donations from donors and grant funding to be able to continue offering this valuable service to the community. NAHS has been very fortunate to recently have received grant money from the Naperville Exchange Club and Build-A-Bear Workshop Bear Hugs Foundation to help cover some of the costs of the program for 2013.
NAHS is dedicated to protecting pets in vulnerable situations that are beyond their control. Our goal is to reunite families with their pets, because the best place for the pet is with its family.
One woman we were able to assist with her two dogs during a time of financial hardship sent us several cards. One card read: “Thank you so much for helping us out, we love you so much. You are so kind and caring for keeping us together as a family!”
The reward we get from seeing a pet reunited with its family in a safe and secure environment is truly joyous!
Angie Wood is executive director of the Naperville Area Humane Society, a private, not-for-profit organization founded in 1979 to develop and implement animal welfare programs and services within Naperville and surrounding communities. Contact her at 630-420-8989 or visit www.napervilleareahumanesociety.org.