Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $100,000)
Women’s Advocates (WA) is requesting funding to support our Pet Foster Program. This program was started in March 2023 to provide safe foster care for the companion animals of victim-survivors of domestic violence who are seeking shelter and safety in our programming. In partnership with Secondhand Hounds, a Twin Cities-based pet rescue program, WA has identified over 100 supporters in our community willing to foster and care for these animals while their owner(s) stay in our Emergency Shelter. When a victim-survivor calls our shelter and requests a safe place for their pet to stay, WA staff contacts a list of short-term fosters who have agreed to be on call to care for animals for 24-48 hours while more permanent arrangements are made. During that time, WA staff contacts our long-term foster list, arranges transfer of the animal to the foster, and Secondhand Hounds provides the animal vet care and training, food, and support to the foster during the pet’s stay. WA and Secondhand Hounds take special care to WA works to keep the animals and volunteers safe from the owner’s abuser in several ways. All communication to the public regarding the animal, including solicitations for fosters, use a look-alike image rather than the dog’s real photo as well as an alias. All fosters must agree not to take the animal to dog parks or large community events where they might be recognized. Victim-survivors will not meet or interact with their pets’ fosters to ensure their volunteer work is kept confidential. WA provides DV-specific training to foster families to make sure they understand the importance of all of these measures to everyone’s safety. If funded, WA will be able to double the current capacity of our program to serving up to four pets at any given time, allowing more victim-survivors to get to safety than ever before.