By Brent Turner, Rover COO
Domestic violence victims often find it difficult to leave an abusive situation because they fear not only for their safety but also for the safety of their loved ones, including their pets. In fact, half of all domestic violence survivors have delayed leaving their abuser out of fear of harm to their pets. And only 3% of shelters for domestic violence in the U.S. allow pets.
Half of all domestic violence survivors have delayed leaving their abuser out of fear of harm to their pets
This issue has struck the Rover community—employees and sitters alike—particularly hard. At Rover, our mission is to make it easier for people to experience the unconditional love of a pet in their lives. As a marketplace that allows pet care providers to offer dog boarding, sitting, walking, and grooming services, we’re caregivers at the core.
This issue also hit me on a personal level. For many years, I have worked to find ways to support survivors of domestic violence, abuse, and sex trafficking. As chair of REST, or Real Escape from the Sex Trade, which seeks to provide freedom, safety, and hope to victims of sexual exploitation in Seattle, I know that we need more support to help women escape violent and dangerous situations.
That’s why Rover is launching a new partnership to help victims of domestic abuse who own pets. We are proud to be working with LifeWire and New Beginnings, two domestic violence support organizations in the Seattle area that help survivors leave violent situations. Both provide urgent assistance and comprehensive support to domestic abuse victims.
Susan Segall, Executive Director of New Beginnings, says, “we see the many ways that survivors valiantly struggle to shield their children and pets from harm, and it warms our hearts that the Rover team is on their side too.”
The Rover domestic violence foster program offers to rescue pets by providing a safe home while the owner stays in a shelter or other emergency housing. When survivors seek safety, LifeWire and New Beginnings will contact Rover for assistance with providing free dog boarding.
More than 140 sitters on Rover in the Seattle area alone signed up to be a part of this program
Already, the outpouring of support we’ve felt from our community for this project has been astonishing. More than 140 pet sitters on Rover in the Seattle area alone signed up to be a part of this program to help provide a safe home for the animals of domestic violence survivors.
Rover sitter Haylee R. is one of the volunteers for the program. She says, “I love providing a place for dogs that is like a temporary home. It’s a much-needed alternative to cages or days in a crate. Transitions and life changes affect our pets too. Dogs feel their owners’ stress!”
Krystal G., another Rover sitter who has offered to board the pets of abuse survivors, has a personal connection to the cause. She says, “I understand how difficult it is to leave a bad situation and if all the small stresses are taken care of, it allows for a survivor to make the best choice for themselves and their family.”
“If all the small stresses are taken care of, it allows for a survivor to make the best choice for themselves and their family.”
She adds, “I think everyone wishes they could do something. I appreciate that Rover gives me the avenue to do this.”
Sitters in the program have full access to the Rover Trust & Safety team, an experienced group made up of former veterinary technicians, 9-1-1 operators, police officers, and pet insurance adjusters. These experts are trained to offer suggestions for challenging situations, marshall resources and provide access to live veterinary consultations.
Confidentiality is a top priority, and our teams are committed to maintaining survivors’ anonymity throughout the process.
Our goal is to take the lessons learned from the pilot in Seattle to explore a long-term program with additional shelters for domestic violence in other U.S. cities. We see an opportunity to help and want to do as much as we can.
I look forward to sharing more details about our program soon.
If you or anyone you know is in a violent situation, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for help.