By Troy Wilde
SANTA FE, N.M. - A program is expanding in New Mexico that rescues pets from domestic-violence situations while the human victims are being cared for.
The New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence operates the "Companion Animal Rescue Effort" (CARE) in partnership with Animal Protection of New Mexico. Alisha Chavez, the coalition's communications director, said the program offers relief and support to domestic-violence victims and survivors, and their companion animals, by providing temporary housing and care for animals threatened by domestic violence.
"There are very few domestic-violence shelters that can house and care for animals," she said. "So a lot of times people are scared to leave their animals behind and not be able to have them with them. This way they may not have their animals with them, but they know their animals will be safe."
Chavez said increased state funding is allowing the program to expand and offer more services across a statewide network of shelters and safe havens for animals in domestic-violence situations. She added that research shows that dogs, cats and other animals can very often become victims of domestic violence.
"We know from various national statistics and reports from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence," she said, "that up to 71 percent of pet owners that enter domestic-violence shelters report that their batterer has threatened, injured or killed family pets."
Chavez said 40-percent of domestic-violence victims refuse to leave their abuser because they are concerned for the welfare of their pets, if they are forced to leave them behind. Audiofile.