As of 2021, only around 250 domestic violence shelters across the country provided co-living options for survivors and their pets.
Since 1977, Sojourner Center in Phoenix has served as a domestic violence shelter for people and their children. As of August this year, they’ve made it possible for residents to bring pets as well.
Sojourner Center worked with Taylor Morrison, a home-building company based in Scottsdale, to make six emergency shelter rooms more pet-friendly by turning them into suite-style rooms with a private bathroom. They also built a dog park on the campus.
“Studies show that many victims of domestic violence delay leaving their situation out of concern for their pets,” said Brad Schoenberg, Phoenix division president for Taylor Morrison.
Sojourner Center has helped people who have service animals since 2015, and due to increased demand, they decided to expand the service to all pets and make a dedicated space on the campus for adults, children, and pets to stay together, according to Bailey DeRoest, co-director at Sojourner Center.
The domestic violence shelter helps over 1,000 people a year, and dogs aren’t the only pets allowed.
“Most pets are welcome at our campus,” DeRoest said. “Historically, we’ve accommodated dogs, cats, reptiles, birds, and even a goat once. If we are unable to accommodate a pet for any reason, we work with a network of community agencies with the focus of keeping pets within the family structure.”
DeRoest said Sojourner Center is in the process of making even more rooms pet-friendly.
In 2021, the American Veterinary Medical Association released a report that showed a need for more pet-friendly domestic violence shelters.
The key findings for people surveyed were:
- 97% said keeping pets was important.
- 50% wouldn’t consider shelter if they can’t bring a pet.
- 48% were worried the abuser would harm or kill the pet.
- 30% said their children were aware of abuse or threats to a pet.
The report said as of 2021, only around 250 shelters across the country provided co-living options for survivors and their pets.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call Arizona’s 24-hour hotline at 602-244-0089 or the national hotline at 800-799-7233.