Since 2003, victims of abuse who flee their homes have had a friend in Safety for Animals and Families in Emergencies. SAFE was founded by past victims of domestic abuse, who tended to notice how morons who beat people are way more likely to beat Barkley too.
The concept was simple: When abuse victims would check in to shelters, intake workers there would notify SAFE if pets had been left behind. SAFE would then rescue the animals and hook them up with new homes, often with the assistance of the Animal Protective League.
With no home office, SAFE has always operated on a shoestring budget, relying on small grants to pay for vet bills and supplies. But mostly, volunteers did the heavy lifting — and those volunteers have been in short supply. That’s why SAFE was pinched out of existence late this summer.
The problem, says former coordinator Leslie Gentile, is that staff in domestic-violence and animal-rights fields — the main folks who care about SAFE’s efforts — are “overworked and overwhelmed” with their own paid jobs.
Compounding their woes, local APL shelters are already at maximum capacity, according to executive director Sharon Harvey. It seems that pets from violent households take a backseat these days to the new flavor of the decade: pets left behind in foreclosed homes.