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London, Ont. Anova women’s shelter is going pet-friendly to fight domestic violence

Anova on Wellington Road. in London. Andrew Graham / 980 CFPL

Anova women’s shelter in London is trying to help more Ontario women leave abusive relationships by opening their doors to pets.

The move is thanks to $22,000 grant from PetSmart Charites Canada.

READ MORE: Lack of beds forced London’s Anova shelter to turn away women more than 2,500 times in 2018

“The main barrier for us has been the cost associated with bringing pets into shelters in a healthy way, wanting to make sure vaccines are up to date and that they are spayed and neutered,” said Cate Trudeau, Anova’s manager of residential services.

Trudeau said not having a place for pets to go would often stop women from leaving abusive relationships sooner.

“They would delay or stay longer in a relationship that was abusive because they could not bring their pets, so we are now able to alleviate that barrier.”

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A study by Dr. Amy Fitzgerald at the University of Windsor found that in 89 per cent of domestic violence cases, some form of animal abuse was also present.

“If you leaving your pet behind there is a risk to the pet physically, even death, so people don’t want to make that decision and we don’t want to put people in that decision,” said Trudeau.

The money is being used to add a dog run to one of Anova’s facilies and upgrade all common spaces and client rooms to make them pet-friendly.

READ MORE: Shelters on the front lines help women flee violence — but they’re also in crisis

Another Anova’s shelter will stay pet free to accommodate women with allergies.

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The organization hopes to support close to 100 families through shelter stays and a fostering program over the next year.

Anyone dealing with an abusive relationship and in need of help can call Anova’s crisis line at 519-642-3000 or click here.

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