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Federal act aimed at supporting pets of abuse victims

Maryland GovPics

A new federal law will allow shelters for women who are fleeing domestic violence to also take care of pets.

The Pet and Women Safety Act, or PAWS, allocated 3 million dollars to shelters to help them support both women and their pets, as they escape abusive situations.

Rachel Farley is with Underground Railroad, a women’s shelter in Saginaw. She said very few shelters currently accept family pets.

“Pets are often used as part of the abuse and as a mechanism of control. So opening a way for a survivor to leave with their pet can really help reduce those barriers.”

Farley said the funding could go to support pet-friendly rooms or kennel accommodations.

“Victims prefer being able to be with their pets because often they are emotional support they are attached but in worst case scenarios being able to room them in a safe place is also an alternative.”

Farley said Underground Railroad has had pet-friendly rooms since 2015. She said those rooms are almost always full.

She said she hopes that shelters across the state will now create and expand pet-friendly accommodations.