Posted on March 26, 2013

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AWLA Keeps Pets Safe for Those in Crisis

Safekeeping program provides refuge for animals in danger

 Hundreds of animals have been temporary guests at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington through its Safekeeping program. Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) provides a safe, temporary environment for animals of families in crisis in Arlington County and Falls Church City.

Hardship can strike at any time and force less than desirable circumstances on a pet. In recent years, a strong connection has been documented linking animal abuse and domestic violence.Women often delay their decision to leave an abusive partner out of concern for the safety of their pets. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence conducted its own study in which 85.4 percent of women and 63.0 percent of children reported incidents of pet abuse after arriving at domestic violence shelters.

“April may be Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Awareness month, but at AWLA our steadfast mission throughout the year is to improve the lives of animals and one way in which we accomplish this objective is through our Safekeeping program,” said Neil Trent, President & CEO of AWLA. “During a crisis, pet owners just need a little short-term help to get back on their feet, but often they have no one willing to take care of their animals and they can’t afford boarding fees.”

Unfortunate circumstances can deplete savings or upset stability so severely that many people find providing for their pets impossible. The goal of the Safekeeping program at AWLA is to keep pets and their people together through a crisis by offering sanctuary to pets not only for domestic violence circumstances, but also situations due to foreclosure, catastrophic illness, owner’s death, flood or fire.

“Animals often give continuity and hope during a crisis, so it is distressing for many when they feel forced to part with a pet due to their circumstance,” said Trent. “But AWLA provides people with relief and hope because there is a reunion to look forward to when better days return.”

Since 2005, more than 200 animals have been cared for and reunited with their owner through the AWLA Safekeeping program. The Safekeeping program is free and available for pets of residents of Arlington County and Falls Church City. Pets are permitted to stay for up to two weeks and there is no restriction on the number of times people can use the service. The pet’s owner is required to contact AWLA on a weekly basis during the safekeeping period to check on the wellbeing of their pet and is permitted to visit their pet during the League’s regular visiting hours.

In addition to community outreach programs such as Safekeeping, for more than 65 years AWLA has continued to remain committed to improving the lives of animals through sheltering and it extends this commitment to the community by offering services such as Low-cost spay/neuter, rabies and micro-chip clinics to provide the public with affordable protection for their feline and canine companions. AWLA events, such as the upcoming 18th Annual Walk for The Animals at Bluemont Park on May 11th, foster the human-animal bond, deepen the understanding of responsible animal stewardship and raise funds to support programs like Safekeeping.

Over 3,000 companion animals benefit from the League each year with 92 percent of sheltered animals either being placed for adoption, reunited with their owner, or transferred to one of many of AWLA’s network of rescue and rehabilitation partners. Annually, more than 9,000 residents in Arlington County and around the D.C. metro area benefit from AWLA programs, services and events.

To learn more about community services such as Safekeeping, programs, adoptable animals or to register for the 18th Annual Walk for the Animals, visit www.awla.org or call 703/931-9241. AWLA’s diverse selection of companion animals including cats, dogs, rabbits, birds and hamsters can also be viewed by downloading the Arlington Pets App.

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