McKamey Animal Center offers support for domestic violence victims

Jazz is training to be a therapy dog at the Family Justice Center. (Image: WTVC) 

According to the Humane Society, about 70% of domestic violence victims say their abusers also target or threaten their pets. In the last three months, the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults says workers helped four people initially afraid to leave abusers - because they didn't want to leave pets behind. McKamey Animal Center says - that's why it offers temporary emergency boarding for pets of domestic violence victims.

"It's one less thing they have to worry about. I mean, they've got so much to worry about," said Jamie McAloon, Executive Director of McKamey Animal Center. "They're trying to figure out how they're going to shelter themselves and their children."

McAloon says she started that practice when she first came to McKamey three and a half years ago.

"It can mean the difference between leaving a household or staying in it or worse yet - leaving that animal behind in that household to be tortured, abandoned or even killed," said McAloon. "And we respond to those calls where animals have been killed during a domestic dispute."

McAloon says the center takes in animals for up to ten days. The shelter doesn't have any pets in emergency boarding right now but in the past year, workers sheltered dozens escaping domestic violence. They took in the most recent pet during Hurricane Harvey.

"Animals are often the first tool used to control those family member," said McAloon. "You control that animals - the family members - especially the children - will comply for dear of that animal being gotten rid of or hurt."

McKamey is a partner agency with the Family Justice Center, and the groups work together to find solutions during the toughest times. Ruben Muriente is an Outreach Coordinator for the Family Justice Center and trains Jazz as a therapy dog to help domestic violence survivors and their children.

"What Jazz and Marty do basically is just bring them to a level where they can just feel open to opening up and talking about the issues they need to," said Ruben Muriente.

To report domestic violence or abuse, call 911.

If you or someone you know needs help, consider the following resources:

Family Justice Center

Partnership for Families, Children and Adults

Children's Advocacy Center

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence - Georgia Resources

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