April 15, 2019

YWCA Spokane’s Safe Shelter Welcomes Pets

At Our Shelter, We Recognize Pets As A Part Of Your Family!

For nearly 20 years, YWCA Spokane’s domestic violence safe shelter has provided a safe place for domestic violence survivors and their pets while connecting them to community resources. Aligned with federal Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, our shelter reduces one of the many hardships a survivor comes up against in planning to leave a violent situation, for fear of leaving their pets behind. No immunization records or service animal requirements are necessary for shelter admittance.

Averaging 15 residents at a time, the shelter provides a safe haven for various pets from dogs, cats, kittens, puppies and gerbils to snakes, rats, birds, and salamanders. Accommodating a resident with multiple pets is not always possible and can involve coordination with SpokAnimal for temporary boarding accommodations.

Mindful about the nature of the cycle of power and control, survivors usually leave and return to an abusive situation about 8-10 times before getting out for good. To help alleviate the pressure to stay in a violent situation due to protecting their pets, survivors are welcome to return to the shelter for multiple periods of time.

Intersections of Domestic Violence and Animal Cruelty

Current research reveals a direct correlation between domestic violence and pet abuse.

Those of us who own pets know how they can greatly enrich our lives through their abundance of unconditional love and unwavering loyalty. Incredibly tuned in to our emotions, many of our pets sense when we are happy, sad, angry, scared, etc. As devoted companions, they share in much of what we experience at home, so if an owner is trapped in an abusive situation, the pet is typically not exempt from it.

“For a lot of our residents, their pets have gone through everything with them,” adds Ellie, YWCA Spokane Domestic Violence Safe Shelter Advocate.

According to domestic violence and animal abuse statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 71% of pet owners entering domestic violence shelters report that their batterer had threatened, injured, or killed family pets. These statistics also show that 25 to 45% of survivors hesitate to flee their abusers out of worry for the safety of their pets.

How to Contact YWCA’s Safe Shelter

Call 326-CALL (2255) for an assessment. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also contact the shelter via email at help@ywcaspokane.org.

Services include safety planning, counseling, general information about intimate partner domestic violence and referrals for other services. Upon screening, there is a guaranteed 72-hour shelter stay; duration of stay can extend for a longer period depending on resident circumstances. More information here.

Additional Resources

The Animal Welfare Institute’s Safe Havens Mapping Project provides a link to women’s shelters across the country that allow pets and/or arrangements for keeping pets protected while survivors seek safety.

Support Our Shelter, Survivors, and Their Pets!

Community members can support YWCA Spokane Domestic Violence Shelter’s efforts to keep survivors and their pets safe in the following ways:

  • Cover the cost of shelter pets’ vet bills
  • Donate pet care products such as collars, leashes, unopened pet food and kitty litter
  • Licensed pet care facilities and veterinary clinics can provide emergency services and shelter for pets

Consider making a donation today to support YWCA Spokane’s safe shelter for survivors and their pets.


By: Tracy Poindexter-Canton

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