Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $100,000)
Community Action Stops Abuse, Inc. (CASA) is one of 41 Florida-certified domestic violence centers. Since 1977, CASA has provided safety and sanctuary to survivors of domestic violence and their children and pets who reside in Pinellas County and the Tampa Bay area. For survivors who are pet owners, their pets are an essential emotional support system. The presence of a pet can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and depression, assist in healing, and ease loneliness. However, only 3% of domestic violence shelters across the country have onsite kennels for pets.This leaves the survivor with a difficult decision to make. To either leave their pet with their abuser and risk their pet being injured or killed, face homelessness with their pet, or try to find a safe haven that will accept their pet. Unfortunately, 50% of survivors with pets stay in abusive situations rather than leave their pet behind.This highlights the importance of CASA’s on-site kennel.
CASA is committed to ensuring that survivors don’t have to make the impossible choice between their own safety and their pet’s safety. At CASA, survivors are encouraged to bring their pet to the emergency shelter so that the pet is not used as leverage by the abuser to get the survivor to return. Our on-site kennel provides sanctuary for pets. The kennel has been operating since 2018 and is an actively used resource at the shelter. This grant will allow CASA to complete repairs and renovations to the physical structure of the kennel. Expenses for this project will consist of replacing cabinetry, a fence and two doors, installing cat suites, dog crates, and a two-zoned mini split AC system, and purchasing pet toys, pet food, and cat litter and other cleaning supplies for the pets. The expected outcomes include: 500 domestic violence survivors and 30 pets will be afforded safe sanctuary from domestic violence over the course of the contract year; CASA will improve the living conditions for all survivors of domestic violence and their pets while they reside at the shelter; and CASA will provide convenience for all survivors visiting and taking care of their pets by ensuring they have a clean and safe environment for their pets.
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