It’s common knowledge that animals can serve as invaluable emotional support for people in crisis. Hence the ever-expanding field of animal-assisted therapy.
The irony is, many of the most stressful places on earth don’t allow the presence of pets. Nursing homes, hospitals, prisons – battered women’s shelters.
Recently, as a Missouri woman was facing a beating from her abusive boyfriend, her Great Dane, J Matthew, stepped in to protect her. He used his body to block the blows. When she was faced with heading to a woman’s shelter, she refused to go when told they wouldn’t accept her dog. She’s not alone. Reportedly, “as many as 40 percent of battered women say they don’t leave abusive situations because they’re afraid to leave their pets behind.”
Hearing the story, however, and seeing the relationship between the woman and her dog, the shelter changed its tune. Not only did they allow her to bring J Matthew, they put in a new pet kennel adjacent to the shelter.
Brilliant. The support of beloved pets is an invaluable asset during times of trauma. All such shelters should encourage these bonds.
If all such places of emotional healing allowed the presence of pets, more lives just might be saved – both human and canine.