Partnership to help house furry friends of abuse survivors

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BELOIT­ - Survivors of domestic violence will have one less barrier to escaping their abusers thanks to the partnership between the Beloit Domestic Violence Survivor Center (BDVSC) and the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin.

Starting on Jan. 1, 2019, survivors seeking the center's services can have their pets housed in the humane society's foster system. Both organizations currently are seeking volunteers to sign up for the extension of the animal shelter's existing foster program.

Kelsey M. Hood-Christenson, director of survivor empowerment services overseeing the BDVSC, a Family Services program, said they're seeking volunteers who are willing to provide shelter to pets of survivors for up to 90 days. She said the humane society will provide food and vaccinations.

"After people come in, many talk about how upset they are to have to leave pets," Hood-Christenson said.

DeShawn Christiansen, assistant executive director of development and fundraising at the humane society, said the program was based on one Hood-Christenson and others found in Dane County.

"We're hoping to have fosters who work specifically with this survivor extension of our foster system," Christiansen said. "This would be up to 90 days the pet would be in our foster families' care, which is a longer time then the typical stay."

Fosters of survivor's pets would go through training with both organizations.

"Really what we're needing now is fosters who are committed to being a part of it," Christiansen said. "As long as we get those in place, we'll be ready to roll on Jan. 1. The extension already fits in with our current program. Now it's just about making sure these pets have homes to go into."

Hood-Christenson said the organizations received a two-year, $9,000 grant from the national organization Red Rover for this program to cover veterinarian, boarding and food costs.

The public also can help by donating leashes or food. Monetary donations also will be accepted.

The survivor center also is hosting a holiday project, where people can adopt a family that's been served in the shelter who has filled out a wish list. Hood-Christenson said the center would like to have gifts by Dec. 15.

For more information on the BDVSC, visit statelinefamilyservices.org. If you're in need of help, call 608-364-1083 or text 608-473-1225.

For more information on the humane society, visit petsgohome.org or call 608-752-5622.

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