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Increasing Access to Shelter and Services for Victims of Domestic Violence with Pets in Northern California

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $400,000)

Increasing Access to Shelter and Services for Victims of Domestic Violence with Pets in Northern California


Sonoma County (population 480,000) has one domestic violence (DV) shelter providing 32 beds. It is not pet-friendly. Neighboring Napa (134,609), Lake (65,000), and Marin (259,441) counties also have DV shelters that are not pet-friendly.    


Ruthless Kindness is a 501c3 non-profit working exclusively at the intersection of animals and interpersonal violence. To reach the 12–48% of victims who will not leave violence if it means leaving their pet(s), Ruthless Kindness provides free mobile pet-services, free mobile veterinary care, partnership/consultation with local DV shelters, and stakeholder training. Since 2017, RK has served more than 750 victims with pets.


Primary activities include: i) Developing pet-friendly housing for victims of domestic violence and their pets in Northern California, ii) Developing a foster care network for emergency and temporary animal housing, iii) Expanding mobile veterinary services to ensure all pets have vaccines, records, and supplies for safe housing, iv) Training key stakeholders, v) expanding services in Spanish.


Deliverables include:

Creation of the first pet-friendly DV housing in Sonoma County.
Expanding free mobile pet services to Lake, Napa, and Marin counties, serving a minimum of 250 pets of DV victims annually.
Increased veterinary services to remove housing barriers for victims. Minimum of 15 clinics per year on-site at facilities serving DV victims.
Development of a reliable, trained foster network for pets of DV victims.
Formation of the Northern California Link Coalition to train animal and human service providers on the connection between animal and human violence.
Provision of resources and forms in Spanish.
New MOUs with 4+ agencies to expand animal housing and services for victims of domestic violence.

Grant funds support medications, vaccines, equipment and supplies for victims and their pets. Funds also support a Program Director salary, completion of animal-friendly housing and support services, development of a foster network, boarding contracts, and expansion of Spanish resources.

Grant funds directly serve DV victims and their animals in Sonoma, Napa, Marin and Lake Counties in Northern California, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or religion. Clients typically meet poverty levels and have no support options for their animals.  This project fits the criteria for priority consideration as it advances racial equity by providing pet-related services/resources in Spanish, which improves access to care for our underserved Hispanic community (27% of Sonoma County residents are Hispanic).

Date Created: September 29, 2022