Professional football champion and pet advocate Russell Wilson who is the quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks currently joined his dog Naomi in the Banfield Foundation’s Safer Together public service announcement in order to share an important message.
The 30-year-old Wilson wanted to shed some light on the plight that domestic violence inflicts on both pets and their owners. According to the Banfield Foundation, 89% of domestic violence victims who are also pet owners have reported that their abuser has either threatened, injured, or killed a family pet.
Sadly, there are only around 10% of domestic violence shelters in the country that allow animals or have pet-friendly facilities in order to accommodate families with pets. This large disparity often leaves pet owners facing a difficult decision of whether to leave their pets at home, rehome their pets, or stay in an abusive situation in order to stay and protect with their pets.
About 48% of pet-owning individuals who are looking to leave abusive situations will often remain in these dangerous situations in order to protect their pets.
“It’s heartbreaking that, all over the country, women, men, and children are seeking refuge from domestic violence – and many remain in danger because they do not have access to pet-friendly shelters or programs. I am honored to partner with the Banfield Foundation to help create a world in which victims never have to choose between their own safety and the safety of loved ones, including their pets,” Wilson revealed in a statement.
The Banfield Foundation, which was founded in September 2015 as a charitable extension of the Banfield Pet Hospitals, has already given nearly $410,000 to 46 domestic violence-related non-profits through their Safer Together initiative. That money has already helped over 4,000 pets find safety with their families.
In addition to Wilson’s PSA, Banfield is also continuing its quest to raise awareness about the necessity of pet-friendly domestic violence shelters by pledging to invest $1 million over four years to the cause through their Safer Together program. The $1 million will be going towards the creation of more pet-friendly options for families who are leaving abusive situations, as well as an all-volunteer Advisory Committee and education programs for the veterinary profession.
Wilson spoke to PEOPLE about the Safer Together initiative by saying, “We want to help people through tough situations, to make sure they feel safe and can keep their family together.”
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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Over the next 31 days, we’ll be highlighting components of our Safer Together Initiative, sharing impactful stories, and shining a light on the nonprofit partners that make this work possible. But first, we want to acknowledge all of the brave survivors of domestic abuse. We stand with you, and are committed to raising awareness and helping victims and their pets find safety together. #domesticviolenceawareness #safertogether
This is wonderful news to hear because abuse victims who own pets should not be further victimized by not being allowed to bring their pets with them.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.
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