CASA adds kennel to domestic violence shelter

- Ivy is enjoying a beautiful sunny day, running around in a fenced in yard, built for pets just like her.  She's happy and safe in her temporary home.

It's a kennel built on the secured property owned by the Bay Area's CASA domestic violence shelter.  It's where her owner is getting help and getting away from her abuser.

She wasn't sure at first that she could bring Ivy with her. So she made the difficult choice to leave her behind.

"Then she found out the abuser had left the dog in the hotel room and disappeared; abandoned it. She got to go get Ivy and bring her here," said Amy Edwards of the CASA kennel committee.

The addition of this kennel gives domestic violence victims peace of mind in knowing they can get out and bring their pets with them.

"About 50 percent of domestic violence victims will not leave because of their pet. I think over 70 percent report that they've seen their abuser also abuse their pet," said Edwards.

That's why CASA's late director, Linda Osmundson, pushed for this kennel for the shelter when it opened in 2015.

A hydrant, painted in purple, the color of domestic violence awareness, was the first item put in place.

"The hydrant sat there as a reminder for us that this is something we had to get done," said John Biesinger, the major gifts manager of CASA.

But plans had to be put off.

"The kennel had to get dropped because we had so many expenses, both known and unknown, that it kind of got pushed to the side," said Biesinger.

Then the community stepped in to offer financial support. Osmundson's dream had come to pass, but she didn't live to see it.

"I think Linda is up there smiling down right now because it broke her heart when we had to drop that but it's here," said Biesinger.

Owners are required to care for their pet while they are staying at CASA. There are food and supplies available.

"We have shelter and veterinary partners that will help us with exams and vaccinations and emergency care if we need it," said Edwards.

For Ivy and her owner, it's so much more than just a safe place.

"It's invaluable. It's part of their healing. Animals are part of the family and for a lot of these people, that's all they have. They had to leave with nothing and they have their pet and it's huge", said Edwards.

For more information about CASA, visit https://www.casa-stpete.org/.

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