PHOENIX - “20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.
The statistics are startling.
“18% of our homicides were domestic violence related,” he added.
And sometimes abusers use pets as a way to engage in emotional and mental abuse.
“I had my cat in the front seat and my son and my dog in the back seat,” said Prisilia Quijano, who knows firsthand. She is a domestic violence victim.
“We just took off,” she said.
When she found Sojourner Center, she couldn’t believe a place like it existed. Prisilia, her son and their pets were fully embraced in the emergency crisis program.
“Just as we feel trauma, they feel the same,” said Julie Peterson, senior director of programs at Sojourner Center.
The pet companion shelter has enough space for more than a dozen dogs and cats and other pets. “Reptiles… I mean birds, fish,” she said.
When Prisilia she first arrived, she was stressed to say the least.
“My hair was thinning, my skin wasn’t as bright as it once was,” she said.
But Sojourner gave her a place to get back on her feet, one way, through painting.
“It was a good way to kind of heal through art,” said Quijano.
The paintings in the communal, relaxing room including one that says “Home is where my dog is,” were done by Prisilia.
“It definitely rings true in this place more than anywhere,” she said.
After just a few short weeks, Prisilia started noticing positive changes in her life.
“Kind of started to get my glow back and Henry was being fed all the time,” she said. “It makes my heart swell, seeing people’s kindness.”
“We know how important these beloved pets are to our families,” said Bretta Nelson, public relations manager for the Arizona Humane Society. “They are our families.”
Other resources to help victims leave their abusers with their pets are the Arizona Humane Society and Lost Our Home Pet Rescue.
“30% of the pets that we’re helping in our temporary care program are domestic violence victims.” Said Jodi Peterson, executive director of Lost Our Home Pet Rescue. “If someone’s in a situation with a pet, don’t let that detour you from leaving.”
As part of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, these organizations will be collecting donations to help domestic violence victims and their pets, through a supply drive.
• Dog and cat food
• Food and water bowls
• Dog and cat toys
Donation locations – October 1-30, 2017
Arizona Humane Society
All sites will be open from 10 am-6 pm daily
Mesa Thrift Store: 1110 W. Southern Avenue, Suite 20, Mesa
Cave Creek Thrift Store: 13401 N. Cave Creek Road, Phoenix
Lost Our Home Pet Rescue
Adoption Center: 2323 S. Hardy Drive, Tempe
• Sojourner Pet Companion Shelter: https://www.sojournercenter.org/
• Arizona Humane Society: http://www.azhumane.org/
• Lost Our Home Pet Rescue: https://www.lostourhome.org/