Philosophy of AR > Animal Abusers
Shelter for Abused Women and Their Pets

WASHINGTON -- Allie Phillips was prosecuting a domestic violence case in Michigan in the late 1990s. She was ready to go to trial when the victim came to her and said, "I can't do this. He's already killed my dog. I still have two other dogs and a goat. I've got to go back and protect them." The victim didn't testify. Phillips lost the case. And to this day, she doesn't know what became of the abused woman or her beloved animals.

"That was my first awareness that people will go back into abusive situations because of their pets," she said.

So when Phillips became director of public policy at the American Humane Association, which works to protect children and animals from cruelty, abuse and neglect, she decided to tackle the issue head on. "I thought, what if we get the animals out, too?" she said. "Then they won't be forced to show up in court and recant. If we can get everyone out, why would they ever go back? That could end the cycle of violence."

Phillips came up with the Pets and Women Shelter, or PAWS, a national education campaign to raise awareness about the issue and to encourage shelters to do something about it. Her first project is with the Doorways for Women and Families Safehouse in Arlington, Va. PAWS awarded Doorways a $5,000 grant to turn an old shed in the back yard into a kennel and animal shelter.
Phillips is writing a manual to show shelters how to house victims and their pets. Her immediate goal is Arlington, and she is striving for 15 other shelters by the end of 2008.

"If you are in the business of trying to protect women and keeping them from going back into abusive homes, then you've got to get the pets out," she said. "We have to get all the victims out of the home."

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