Vet Students and Practitioners Raise Awareness about Animal Cruelty/Domestic Abuse
URBANA - This week, students at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine are making the rounds at area veterinary clinics to raise awareness about a hidden problem that can be dangerous and deadly for people as well as animals: Domestic violence.
Studies show that there is an overwhelming connection between domestic abuse and animal cruelty. The veterinary profession can play an important role in identifying and helping people and animals in abusive situations.
Through a "safe haven" program called A Pet's Place, students at the College of Veterinary Medicine provide confidential and free boarding for the pets of victims of domestic violence staying at two area shelters, A Woman's Place in Urbana and BETHS Place in Tuscola.
Veterinarians are already on the lookout for suspected animal abuse. A Pet's Place is now asking local veterinarians to go a step further by recognizing the connection between animal abuse and domestic violence and providing resources for clients who may need them. Veterinarians are encouraged to post information about A Pet's Place and local women's shelters in their clinic, perhaps in the bathroom, where clients can discreetly get the information. Veterinary hospitals can also help by providing access to a phone at a time when the abuser is not present.
Domestic violence shelters do not allow pets due to public health regulations. Women who fear for the safety of pets left behind may be less likely to leave an abusive situation, which makes awareness of A Pet's Place so important in encouraging domestic violence victims to seek the help they need.
In September 2005, A Pet's Place was the recipient of the first-ever "Team Award" through the Campus Award for Excellence in Public Engagement at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The award recognizes faculty members, academic professionals, staff, and students who, working together as a team, have made a significant contribution in engaging the public on a sustained basis to address critical societal issues. This recognition included a $5,000 contribution to the Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine to support and enhance the program.
Raising community awareness about animal cruelty and its link to domestic violence is an important way to enable people to get the services they need.