RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Last week a federal judge recognized pets as part of the family for domestic violence victims, by passing the Pets and Women Safety Act as a component of the Farm Bill.
Now shelters across the country can apply for grants that will help fund more animal-friendly facilities.
"This is the first time that there is federal money for the combination of the pet services with domestic violence," says Noah’s House founder Staci Alonso.
A national study shows 85 percent of women living in domestic violence shelters reported pets were harmed by the abusers.
Alonso says after providing protection for victims and their pets for more than a decade, she's excited to see more shelters open their doors to animals.
"Nothing's more humbling than when a woman comes up to you and says, you saved my life; I would have never left if I couldn't bring my dogs."
Noah's Animal House was the first pet shelter and boarding facility in the country.
Alonso adds victims from 21 states have come to Noah's shelters in Reno and Las Vegas looking for refuge with their pets.
"That's an incredible stat for us, but it just screams how much need is out there for domestic violence shelters to add pet services."
For Alonso this bill has been a long time coming. The Noah's House along with Purina, the Bayer Corporation and more, formed the PAW's Act Coalition. For the past 2 years they have been waiting for this moment.
"I think that including it in the Farm Bill and having it pass with other important legislation was obviously the right path to take and we got it before the end of the year,” says Alonso. “It was a great holiday gift."
Until shelters are able to apply for grants to transform their facilities, Alonso says victims don't have to wait. Noah's has space for you and your pets.
"We're here and there is a solution. There is an open kennel always. We'll figure it out."
No longer will victims have to choose between their pets and protection. Since opening its doors, Noah’s has provided more than 90,000 nights of free boarding and kept 14 hundred families of domestic violence united.
People needing domestic violence support services or housing for their pets at Noah's Reno should call the Domestic Violence Resource Center at (775) 329-4150.