A group of seven animal-loving children from San Luis Obispo County recently gathered donations for local survivors of intimate partner violence and their furry friends.
The grant allowed RISE to construct on-site housing at its Atascadero shelter for dogs and cats, RISE Associate Director Jane Pomeroy said.
The shelter now has the capacity for eight cats and eight dogs, Pomeroy said, and is currently housing at least one dog.
Although the grant paid for the kennels, RISE relies on donations to provide basic pet needs, such as food bowls, grooming products and cleaning supplies. That’s where the kids- Jake and Kate Harvey, Olivia and Sofia Rice, Amelia and Nora Pfost and Bixby Hardy- stepped in.
Shell Beach Elementary School teacher and mother Heathery Harvey said she read about RISE’s RedRover grant and thought it would be a great opportunity to teach the children about domestic abuse and how it can affect animals as well as people.
“(We) decided it would be a great opportunity to teach the kids about something we could do to help the community. The girls got together, took turns reading the article and then we all discussed what it meant,” Maria Rice, Sofia and Olivia’s mother, wrote in a message to The Tribune.
According to RISE, the kids “spread the word and gathered bags of goodies for the survivors and their pets” by drawing pictures, making lists and collecting items from neighbors for survivors and their pets.
“The kids loved the experience and the support they received from all the neighbors,” Rice wrote.
They collected 20 to 25 bags of supplies Harvey said; proximately $150 worth of leashes, bowls, pet waste bags, food and blankets, Pomeroy said.
“We know that coming to shelters and leaving abusers can be especially difficult if they are worried they can bring their pets with them,” Pomeroy said. “It can serve as a barrier to seeking services such as ours.”
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 70 percent of pet-owning women entering domestic violence shelters reported that their abuser had injured, killed, or threatened family pets. As many as 65 percent of domestic violence victims are unable to escape their abusers because they fear leaving their pets behind, the coalition said.
A previous version of the article did not have the name of the children or the correct number of children who gathered donations.