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Domestic violence shelter takes in victims and their furry friends

Sojourner Center takes pets
Posted at 5:48 PM, Oct 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-25 08:47:46-04

PHOENIX — A Valley woman says she is grateful to a local shelter that was able to help her and her beloved dog as well.

The woman, who asked not to be identified, said leaving her abuser wasn't easy.

"The things he said afterward and I still went back to him," the woman said.

Three weeks ago, she left her abuser not knowing where she would end up. She had tried to leave in the past, but she'd always go right back.

When she left, she had to leave her dog, Poseidon, with her 83-year-old grandmother.

"I just didn't know where I could go with him," she said.

She discovered the Sojourner Center at an event in Surprise. They immediately told her they'd take her and Poseidon too.

"My kids are grown so this is my child too," she said.

The Pet Companion Shelter is the official name of the shelter. It opened it's doors in 2015.

"Only 3 to 5 percent of domestic violence shelters across the U.S. have pet shelters," said Trevor Heffner, the director of the Pet Companion Center. "A lot of these people are staying in abusive relationships, life-threatening situations because they can't take their pets with them," he said.

Statistics show that 48 percent of women who are experiencing domestic violence won't leave their abuser for fear of not knowing where or how to house their pets.

"We do take dogs and cats, that's our main focus but we do all family pets. We've had birds, reptiles, fish guinea pigs, there was a goat that came through here a while ago," Heffner added.

Having a place for Poseidon was the turning point for this woman.

"I've been waiting for this for a while now because I was really stuck in that relationship," she said.

Every time she was abused, so was Poseidon.

"I'm just glad I'm here to get the help for me and him, and I have him with me in my room even, I'm just blessed."

If you or someone you know needs victim services, please contact:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
  • Family Advocacy Center: 602-534-2120