On July 19th, 2014, W.O.M.A.N., Inc staff, volunteers, and community members all got together at Duboce Park for W.O.M.A.N., Inc.’s 2nd Annual Doggie Walk. The purpose of this event is to not only show the connection between pet abuse and domestic violence, but also to show the strong connection between survivors and their pets; pets often provide an incomparable form of support for survivors. This year’s event was particularly special, as it was dedicated to Claire Pierce Moreira, a beloved volunteer of W.O.M.A.N., Inc. and pet-lover, who passed away this past year.
Friends and family of Claire, along with our much-appreciated community of supporters, came out that Saturday afternoon with their dear furry companions to both honor Claire and her deep compassion for pets and domestic violence survivors, as well as to recognize the high prevalence of pet abuse. Everyone got the chance to genuinely enjoy each other’s company, while also learning about each of our unique connections to pet abuse, domestic abuse, and W.O.M.A.N., Inc. In the midst of it all, we also threw in a few fun pet challenges, including a “Longest Stay” challenge (i.e. the dog who could “stay” the longest) and a “Best Trick” challenge. Additionally, the Events Committee at W.O.M.A.N., Inc. held a raffle, featuring prizes uniquely fitted to the theme of pets, such as doggie treats/food, dog wash certificates, a pet variety gift-pack, and finally (though not for pets), a cafe gift certificate.. At the end of the event–we were able to raise a grand total of $310, from both raffle entries and voluntary donations.
An overwhelming amount of research shows a strong correlation between pet abuse and domestic violence. If pet abuse is occurring, there is a great chance that domestic violence is also occurring. Studies show that as many as “71% of pet-owning survivors entering [domestic violence] shelters reported that their abuser had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims.” Survivors of domestic violence are also more tentative about leaving abusive relationships at the fear of their pets getting more hurt. Between 25% and 40% of survivors reported they were unable to leave an abusive situation because they worried what would happen to their pets. (“Facts About Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence”, n.d.). This stark statistic shows just how central pets are in the lives of many domestic violence survivors. Domestic violence is frequently a silent issue in and of itself; with the added concern of pet abuse, this predicament poses yet another obstacle for domestic violence survivors to seek help in their tenuous circumstances.
From all of us at W.O.M.A.N., Inc., we’d like to extend a sincere THANK YOU to our business sponsors: Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Foods, Noe Valley Pet Co., K9 Scrub Club, and Duboce Park Cafe who all generously donated wonderful raffle items to support this event and our agency. Furthermore, we’d like to give a big THANK YOU to all our event participants! You all illustrate that it really takes a whole community to confront the challenges of domestic violence and we are so grateful for your support!