Oct. 7, 2015
If you don’t come out right now, I’m going to kill your dog. I’m going to kill your precious Sophie.
He stabbed the little Italian greyhound several times, puncturing a lung. Hearing the dog’s terrified and painful cries, Mary burst out of the bathroom. The knife dug into her shoulder as she tried to save her dog, who had been her only comfort and support in a deeply troubled marriage.
Both left with their lives, though deeply scarred, inside and out. Veterinarians had to remove Sophie’s lung. Many other victims of domestic violence lose even more. Some lose their lives.
Domestic violence is a frequent and serious problem in New Mexico. It’s not uncommon for victims to report that their abuser injured, killed or threatened the family companion animal for revenge or control. Studies show up to 68 percent of domestic violence victims delay reporting or leaving their abusers for fear of the safety of their companion animals, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina.
In a partnership with the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Animal Protection of New Mexico’s Companion Animal Rescue Effort (CARE) program makes leaving a dangerous situation a little easier. “October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and we need to raise awareness of the enormous impact domestic violence has on all family members and our entire community,” said Laura Bonar, APNM’s chief program and policy officer. “There is help to break the cycle of violence for families, including families with animals, in New Mexico.”
Many domestic violence victims move into temporary housing or shelters that cannot accommodate animals. CARE provides animal foster homes for up to 30, 60 or 90 days, while survivors rebuild their lives. Once they are stable, families and animals are then reunited.
“[My cats] are the ones who have given me the unconditional love that everyone wants in life,” said Sandy, a domestic violence survivor who received housing from CARE for her two cats. “I couldn’t be more grateful to CARE for taking great care of my babies and giving me peace of mind so I could concentrate on building a better future for the three of us.”
“CARE can bring life saving support to domestic violence victims,” said Sharon Jonas, CARE’s program manager. “But we need more volunteers to keep up with demand to protect animals and their families from further trauma.”
CARE is in dire need of foster homes. Because of the sensitive nature of the situation and for the safety of all involved, CARE animals must be kept separate from other animals in the foster residence.
“Many of the people interested in fostering already have companion animals of their own,” Jonas explained. “Keeping their animals separate from the CARE animals may not be possible. We’re hoping to reach out to individuals and families without other animals or with enough space that separating them isn’t an issue.”
CARE helps victims like Sandy become survivors by making it easier to leave and seek shelter. Two of the program’s most ardent supporters are also 2015 Milagro Award winners — Senator Nancy Rodriguezand Pam Wiseman, executive director of the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence (follow the links to view their award videos). For more information about CARE, please visit www.apnm.org/care, email Sharon@apnm.org or call the CARE Hotline: 844-323-CARE (2273).
Making Humane the New Normal
For 36 years, Animal Protection of New Mexico, a 501(c)(3) organization, has been advocating for animals by effecting systemic change and promoting the humane treatment of all animals. Our programs and initiatives include active support of local and state legislation, reporting and prevention of animal cruelty, humane education, animal sheltering assistance, equine welfare and protection, coexistence with wildlife, and securing sanctuary for chimpanzees. For more information, please visit www.apnm.org.
Sara Palmer, Communications Director, APNM
CARE Program Contact:
Sharon Jonas, Program Manager, APNM
Tel: 844-323-CARE (2273)