Shelter to allow abused women to keep dogs

Published: Jul. 6, 2017 at 7:04 PM PDT
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"Leave me and I'll kill the dog." It's a threat abusers often use to keep their victims from seeking help, but a planned shelter aims to keep families and their pets together in times of crisis.

"If they have their pets by their side, they heal and they stay long enough to recover and break the cycle," said Staci Alonso, founder of Noah’s Animal House.

Alonso identified a problem in Las Vegas years ago: most women's shelters don't accept pets, so victims are left deciding between their own safety and their pet's safety.

"Over the past 18 months we have been tracking it very carefully and we had 86 individuals calling our hotline for emergency services who ultimately opted not to access our services because we did not have a pet-friendly shelter," said Denise Yoxsimer, Executive Director of the Community to Assist Abused Women of CAAW.

The first steps in solving that problem happened Thursday. Work started on an animal shelter on the grounds of the CAAW women’s shelter.

"This definitely will have a life-saving impact for the pets, for the adults, and for the children," Yoxsimer

"Not only is it for domestic violence victims but also for the pets that are subjected," said Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve.

The concept of "

" was born in Las Vegas. There, in the last 10 years, over a thousand pets have stayed with their victim owners while they get back on their feet.

"No individual that finds themselves in the circumstances of being abused, should have to choose between themselves and their own personal pets," said US Senator Dean Heller (R-NV).

Senator Heller is sponsoring legislation that would allow more women's shelters to offer services similar to those offered by Noah’s.

"The purpose of PAWS is to offer incentives and dollars necessary to start facilities like this," said Heller.

"Our real goal is for Noah's Animal House to be in every community in partnership with the domestic violence shelters," said Alonso.

That's still a ways off, but our local facility is expected to open by the end of 2017.