Animal hospital offers service for domestic violence victims

Local News

A local animal hospital is offering to shelter pets whose owners who are trying to escape an abusive relationship.

“I was told that there’s a definite need for people to be able to relocate their companion, pets prior to making the decision to flee,” said Dr. Sharon Coleman, veterinarian at North Roanoke Veterinary Hospital in Roanoke County.

Coleman has offered boarding services at her animal hospital for a while. But now, she is offering to shelter pets for free if their owners are trying to flee from domestic violence.

“I thought if I had to leave and run from a situation, I would not leave my pets behind,” Coleman said.

“We also don’t want it to be a barrier for them to leave,” said Stacey Sheppard of Total Action for Progress (TAP).

Some victims hesitate to leave an abusive situation because they do not want to leave their pets behind, Sheppard said. It can be difficult for some domestic violence shelters to take in people and their pets, she added, and many victims fear their pets will be abused if they leave without them.

“There’s either been a history of some type of abuse towards that animal or they know that there’s the potential for abuse to that pet or that animal, so they don’t want to leave that pet in that situation, either,” Sheppard said. 

TAP has also worked with Angels of Assisi to find places for pets, Sheppard said.

If you are trying to flee from domestic violence and are interested in boarding your pet at North Roanoke Veterinary Hospital, you are asked to call the animal hospital after making contact with law enforcement, Coleman said. 

April is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

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