Houston nonprofit PetSet has launched Pet Protect, a free pet boarding initiative for survivors of domestic violence.
The initiative aims to create an opportunity for individuals to flee dangerous environments safely without having to leave behind their pets.
“Since the stay-home, work-safe order was enacted, we’ve seen an increase in reports of domestic violence,” Co-President of Houston PetSet Tama Lundquist said. “Unfortunately, we know that oftentimes an abuser will use a pet as leverage to keep their victim in the home. We hope that by launching the Pet Protect program, survivors will have peace of mind knowing that they can safely escape with their pet, and their companion will be cared for until the survivor can make their next transition in life.”
Houston PetSet has partnered with Westbury Animal Hospital to offer boarding for pets when survivors of domestic violence are planning to leave their situation.
Individuals can board their pets before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m. Monday - Friday, and on weekends and holidays.
“We’ve heard from victim advocates that, in certain instances, individuals are unable to leave their abuser during ‘off’ hours because they have no place to safely bring their pets,” Dr. Jonathan Cooper who is a partner at Westbury Animal Hospital said. "We want anyone that is interested in fleeing their situation to be able to do so at any time of the day or week.”
Houston Dog Ranch is also partnering with Houston PetSet, offering pet boarding to survivors their pets at no charge for upwards of 30 days.
“Too often it is not just innocent people that are subjected to violence but their pets endure abuse as well,” Houston Dog Ranch owner Matt Bryant said. “We believe that survivors of domestic violence deserve to know that their beloved pets are safe, well cared for and receiving the behavioral training required to recover from their experiences.”
Houston PetSet is currently working with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the Houston Police Department, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the Houston Area Women’s Center to provide the Pet Protect to survivors with pets.
If you or someone you know is in need of this service, visit houstonpetset.org/pet-protect for more information.