Many may have heard about CASA – Community Action Stops Abuse, a non-profit in Pinellas County that operates a 24-hour crisis hotline, a 100-bed emergency shelter, thrift shop, counseling services, community support groups, courtroom advocacy, child protective investigative team, cell phone program, and community education and corporate training. What you may not realize is they are also one of the only shelters in Florida that also accepts the pets of the families who find a safe refuge there.

In a recent visit with CASA staff I learned that prior to the pet shelter opening, many victims came to them needing to leave their abusive circumstances but couldn’t because they didn’t want to leave their pets. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “71 percent of domestic violence victims reported that their abuser also targeted pets”. And, “In one study of families under investigation for suspected child abuse, researchers found that pet abuse had occurred in 88 percent of the families under supervision for physical abuse of their children”.

I can’t imagine being faced with the decision to leave my pet behind in an abusive situation in order to ensure my personal safety, or to stay with my pet in the abusive circumstances where we are both being abused. Neither of these choices are good. Thankfully there are shelters like CASA who accept and care for the pets of survivors, so they aren’t faced with such awful decisions and circumstances.

I had the great honor to visit CASA’s shelter, including their pet shelter. Their facility is state of the art, where safety and security are paramount. Being free from harm, survivors of domestic violence were busy using the large resource center filled with computers and staff and volunteers to assist them with job searches and finding permanent homes. Pets have a large fenced, grassed play area where they can run, play, and heal from their abusive circumstances. Thank you to CASA for all you do for people and pets!

The CASA Pet Shelter needs ongoing funding for pet shelter maintenance, food for pets, and the administrative costs of operating the pet shelter. When you donate at OPK’s checkout to the CASA Pet Shelter, 100% of your donation will go directly to CASA’s specific Pet Shelter Project Fund. In addition, Our Pets’ Kitchen donates a portion of our proceeds to the CASA Pet Shelter. We hope you will join us with your support.