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Finding Safety Together: A Community Model for Providing Emergency and Transitional Pet Shelter and Housing for Victims and their Companion Animals

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $493,637)


CCN is a domestic violence center located in Pittsburgh, PA, that developed animal assisted therapy services in 2011 with the adoption and training of a shelter dog (Penny).  In 2013, PAWS For Empowerment (PFE) grew, providing Allegheny County’s first canine court accompaniment service.  Eventually, two additional canines and a feline joined the team. Finally, the program expanded providing outreach and training to local veterinary clinics. CCN views emergency and transitional pet shelter and housing assistance for victims and their companions as a logical extension of its PFE services.


Key project activities include:

Securing emergency and transitional pet friendly housing for victims and their pets, and needed relocation funds
Securing boarding on farms for larger animals and providing transportation assistance
Expanding existing training for veterinary clinics and other animal related organizations on the intersection of animal and human abuse to increase identification and victim referrals
Distributing stipends for pets requiring care
Promoting community awareness of the project
Adding necessary staff, MIS, administrative support infrastructure


Deliverables include:

6 MOUs with pet friendly hotels, providing 35 emergency shelter nights annually for victims and pets
6 emergency pet shelters (animal boarding) MOUs providing 150 shelter nights for pets annually
2 agreements with farms for emergency shelters for large companion animals.
A minimum of 2 pet friendly transitional housing units for victims and pets annually
Annual support services (relocation, tangible assistance, transportation, and veterinary stipends)
Completed data base of participating organizations/stakeholders
4 new training modules for veterinary clinics and newly identified stakeholders
Train 120 stakeholders annually


Service Area

The service area includes Allegheny County’s 1.22 million residents, including the 256,000 living in 109 high poverty census tracts (referrals will be accepted from sister programs). Additional options are needed for domestic violence victims and their companion animals since there are currently just two shelters in the County having a capacity for boarding 12 pets at one time for a maximum of 30 days.


Proposed Project Beneficiaries

Some 67% of all US households own pets and studies show that 71% to 88% of women entering shelters report pet abuse which perpetrators use to manipulate and control their victims. Other studies have found that 12% to 48% of victims remain with or return to abusers to protect the welfare of their companion animals.  This project is designed to serve this large segment of victims who are reluctant to leave abusive situations for fear of endangering their pets.

Date Created: September 28, 2021