The Passion of a Pet - Human Services/Animal Welfare

Paw holding a human hand.

For domestic violence survivors, pets can provide loving companionship. When victims have been isolated from friends and family by their abusers, a pet may be the only nonviolent relationship they have. And for some, pets may even save their lives by intervening in the abuse. Many of these animals exhibit great resilience despite experiencing trauma of their own; therefore, some need a little extra care to help work through behavioral issues brought on by the abuse they have witnessed or even experienced.

Marco is one such dog who, after years of witnessing abuse, began trying to protect his mother from her abuser. When Marco entered a program conducted by a CFC-supported organization, he had experienced such turmoil and chaos. Marco, suddenly separated from his owner, was alone and neglected for several days until his owner returned home from the hospital. For Marco, this was a breaking point, and he turned aggressive toward people.

It is profoundly important to care for these special pets, as they are not to blame for the ways in which they have learned to cope with the terrifying world of abuse. Even with an incredible community of partnerships with many different facilities, rehabilitating these animals is still extremely expensive as CFC-supported organizations look to place these pets in the environments that are equipped to safely provide two months of rehabilitation care.

Thanks to patient and compassionate training partners who understand the needs of abused pets, such as Marco and many like him, CFC-supported organizations have successfully recovered and returned these animals to their original, lovable selves. Thanks to funding through the CFC, these many pets like Marco have rejoined their owners to rebuild a new, violence-free life together. 

CFC-supported organizations proudly help all types of animals, and this year one crisis hotline received a call from a woman in South Georgia planning to escape her abusive husband with her three beloved parakeets: Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. She revealed that the abuser had just doused each bird in spray paint in a particularly dangerous act of animal abuse, as spray paint is highly toxic to birds. Imagine the headache you have after painting in an enclosed area. These birds were essentially gassed by the fumes overwhelming their small stature, and they ended up ingesting the chemicals from licking and cleaning their feathers, leading to fatal iron, zinc, and lead potentially poisoning them.

Their owner understood that the clock was ticking. Despite having no existing veterinary partners in the area that treated birds, she was able to cold call an aviary clinic that agreed to help the band of brothers immediately.

The team moved swiftly to transport the birds to safety at the clinic, where aviary experts painstakingly bathed and cleaned the feathers of each bird to ensure that all traces of the paint was removed. Within 48 hours, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore were completely free of toxins.

The experts continued baths and wellness checks to monitor for respiratory issues, but none were identified – the birds were in the clear!

Today, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore are settled into their new home with mother and a brand new bird cage. During their time in the program, the CFC-supported organization worked behind-the-scenes to secure the cage, food, and other supplies to replace those that had been damaged by the abuser prior to the client’s escape. These supplies were funded entirely by contributions from donors and volunteers! While many of generous partners offer free or discounted services, donor support is still essential to ensuring that each animal entering CFC-supported programs receives the care they need.

Human Services/Animal Welfare