Tag Archives: animal rescue

Helping humans and animals in domestic violence situations.

This blog’s authors stand upon the premise that a direct link has been established between animal abuse and domestic violence. It has been established through credible research.

We also stand upon the premise that aiding animals in domestic violence situations is important, and it is an activity that needs more attention as a community service activity. More families are likely to seek safety if they know that their pets will be safe too.

We recognize that some women jeopardize themselves by remaining in dangerous situations when they cannot find safety for their animals. We also recognize that some women will prolong their own exposure to violence, and also prolong their children’s exposure to violence, for a lot of reasons. One of these reasons, sometimes, is worry about the welfare of their animals.

Although we recognize this circumstance, and although we see it as a reason to promote more awareness for the care of pets in domestic violence situations, we do not advocate that anyone put the welfare of humans at risk FOR ANY REASON. Even for the welfare of the pets.

Any child in danger must be brought to safety IMMEDIATELY. If your child is in danger, or any child that you know is in danger, PLEASE take proper action to secure the child’s safety, even if there are animals at risk who cannot be rescued immediately.

It is an adult’s choice about his/her own safety, however, we do not recommend that you risk your own safety for the safety of a pet. When it comes to a child, however, THE CHILD’S WELFARE MUST COME FIRST.

Recently, I was asked to aid in an effort to find homes for two dogs who were being displaced because of domestic violence. I had little information about the situation. All I knew was that a woman and her 9 year old daughter were leaving their home where there was an abusive man, and they were asking for assistance in finding homes for their dogs. They were afraid that the dogs would be abused by the man in their absence. Statistics about abusers also abusing pets suggest that their worry was legitimate.

I did not know if the woman was waiting to secure herself and her daughter until the pets were safe. My queries to the person who asked for my help suggested that she and the daughter were being aided by a community service organization in their area.  I have to accept that this is true, because even if it is not, there is little that I can do. I was only asked to help the animals who were beloved by this family.

My posting about the situation on Facebook prompted some comments about the welfare of the woman and child. By seeking help for the animals, was I condoning the possibility that this woman was waiting to secure herself and her child until the animals were safe?

That certainly was not my intent. I simply was putting forward the request for help for the animals. I was not asked to help the family in any other capacity. My hope is that the woman was responsible in finding safety for herself and the child regardless of the pets’ situation.

Domestic violence is a very insidious issue. As a counselor for 19 years, I faced many situations where I knew people were making unwise choices in regards to violence in their homes, but there was little I could do to intervene unless there was immediate danger. We simply cannot fix other people’s lives for them. We can only offer them opportunities to get out of bad situations, educate them about those opportunities, and offer support.

That is why this blog and the entire Okey’s Promise initiative promotes awareness about the connections between animal abuse and domestic violence and child abuse. By being more aware of the connections, we are more able to recognize the dangers to both humans and animals, and we are more able to develop services that can help both out of bad situations.

Because everyone deserves safety and peace of mind. And communities that care about animals are communities that care about people.



Meet Vicki Cook, New Okey’s Promise Contributor

BZTAT Vicki Cook BlogPaws April 2010
BZTAT and Vicki Cook at the first BlogPaws Conference in Columbus, OH April 2010

My good friend Vicki Cook has been a big supporter of Okey’s Promise from the very beginning, and she continues to send me links to stories with relevant content to the project’s mission. Vicki is a great writer, is involved in animal welfare initiatives, and has some professional experience working in social service organizations. So I decided to ask her to be a contributor to this blog.

Vicki was a bit surprised that I asked her, claiming that she has no expertise for the topic. In my mind, though, this is a topic that we all need to know about, and it takes no expertise to share what is general knowledge. It simply takes a passion for animals and a passion for people who are vulnerable in our world. Vicki certainly has that.

I asked Vicki to write an introduction for us.  Here it is. I look forward to more great posts from her in the future.

From Vicki Cook, New Okey’s Promise Contributor

I originally met BZTAT on Twitter about two years ago when we connected through a group of animal lovers, who got together on a regular basis to have fun and raise money for animal shelters and rescue groups all around the world.

Over time our friendship moved offline and into the real world when I visited her at her studio in Canton, Ohio.  BZTAT is actively involved in the growing arts community in downtown Canton, and I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – just a few hours away.  I took my teenaged daughter there for a weekend to meet a ‘real live’ artist and tour of the art galleries.

The following year we both attended three pet blogging conferences – BlogPaws 2010 in Columbus, Ohio; BarkWorld Expo in Atlanta, Georgia; and BlogPaws West in Denver, Colorado.  In addition to writing Okey’s Promise, BZTAT has her own blog Bztat Studios and helps her spokescat Brewskie Butt with his blog Just Meowin’.  I also have a pet blog called Bunny’s Blog, which is inspired by my rabbit and twitter alter ego Bunny Jean Cook and focuses on animal shelters, rescue groups, and other animal-related causes.

Most recently, BZTAT and I spent a weekend together in Cleveland, Ohio at the headquarters of Embrace Pet Insurance, home of the newest BZTAT Studios gallery.  BZTAT volunteered to do a 24-hour paint-a-thon in support of the 24-hour blog-a-thon that our friend Dr. V at PawCurious and several other pet bloggers were doing that weekend.

During the paint-a-thon BZTAT and I had a conversation about the connection between animal cruelty, child abuse, and domestic violence. BZTAT commented about an article in her local paper, which addressed issues at the local animal shelter and implied that caring for abused animals is not as important as caring for abused children.

Now in addition to being a talented artist, BZTAT is also a licensed clinical therapist who works with women and children in crisis. She noted that many times when animal abuse occurs, there is a likelihood of child abuse and/or domestic violence. She also stated that the child welfare movement actually grew out of the animal welfare movement.

Shortly after this, BZTAT set up a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter to help underwrite Okey’s Promise, a public art project to increase awareness about the connection between animal cruelty, child abuse, and domestic violence, and she established this blog to further address those issues.

I also feel very strongly about these issues, and that is why I am so honored to be asked to contribute to this blog – especially because this month is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.

Every April, the ASPCA urges their supporters across the country to Go Orange for Animals in honor of signing their charter in 1866. This year is their 145th anniversary, and you can help support the ASPCA’s efforts by learning how to recognize and report animal cruelty.  For more information on the connection between animal cruelty and domestic violence, please click here.

Pets and Disasters – Do you have a plan if a disaster happens in your community?

An astounding number of disasters, some natural and some man made, have occurred recently around the globe. Earthquakes, tsunamis, blizzards and other snow events, floods, tornadoes, wildfires, gas leaks leading to home and neighborhood explosions, radiation exposures, warfare, etc. You name it – it has happened.

These disasters have arisen suddenly, and have affected areas not usually accustomed to anticipating danger.

Other smaller scale and more personal disasters have happened much more frequently, yet get less notice – house fires, domestic violence, home foreclosures and evictions, etc.

Whether it is a community disaster or a more personal and individualized one, disasters affect our pets as much as they do ourselves. Why should we care?

Obviously, in a disaster, human safety is paramount and the first priority of our safety forces. But our animals bring great value to our lives when things are going well. It stands to reason that their welfare would be a priority for us in a disaster too. We want those who bring us comfort and are a part of our daily lives to be safe every bit as much as we want ourselves to be safe.

Stories such as this one about a woman who risked her own safety to save her pets from fire are not uncommon.

Whether or not you think it makes sense, there are people who consider their pets family members and will risk their lives to rescue them from danger. I am one of them. We need to recognize that and consider pet safety as a part of community disaster planning.

But we aren’t there yet. Pet owners need to think ahead and do some disaster preparedness in advance to minimize the risks if a dangerous situation does happen.

Do you have a disaster plan for your family and pets?

I confess that I do not. I do, however, lose sleep sometimes, wondering how I would save all 5 of my cats if something bad were to happen.

The ASPCA has some great disaster preparedness suggestions. I am in the process of implementing some of them. I hope you will check them out and do the same.

What ideas and concerns do you have about caring for your pets in a disaster? Do you have suggestions for how to herd 5 cats in the event of a dangerous event requiring evacuation? What would you do for your pet if you needed to evacuate? I am interested in hearing your thoughts. Please leave comments.



Okey gives back – helping out the Greentown cats

Okey white cat drawing
Drawing by Artist BZTAT

It is widely known that Okey, the cat who inspired this blog and the entire Okey’s Promise project, was rescued from a parking lot in downtown Canton, OH. Less known is that the actual rescue took days and was a very delicate process.

I have taken in stray cats many times in my life, but they always found their way to me, so taking them in was easy. Not so with Okey. She was scared and had obviously had bad experiences with humans. My first attempt to grab her left me with numerous scratches and with her becoming doubly wary of me.

I knew I needed help. So I called my friend Jill who runs a small animal rescue Cripple Creek Ferals & Friends. Jill provided me with a live trap and coached me through the process of earning Okey’s trust. It took a few days, but I finally found her in the trap, and brought her inside for a gradual integration with my other cats.

Now, we are a happy family! Okey has become pals with the other cats and has really made our lives very full. She still is timid and skittish at times, showing her continued fear of humans, but when things are on her terms, she is very loving. We are very grateful to Jill for helping make our family complete.

So we have decided to give back to Jill and Cripple Creek Ferals and Friends.

Jill is in the process of rescuing 2 large groups of  cats. The first group was at a home of a couple who simply lost control of their feline population and it grew out of control. Jill and other volunteers began the rescue at the request of family, and in the midst of the rescue, the house caught fire.

The woman was seriously injured in the fire. The man had already been placed in a nursing home and was no longer in the home. (Read local news about the fire and cat rescue.) It appears that the cats that were in the home survived by escaping into the garage that did not burn. Now Cripple Creek Ferals & Friends are tasked with managing, assessing, vetting and finding homes for all these cats. You can follow updates on the cats and learn adopting them at Cripple Creek’s Petfinder page.

I have done a small fundraiser by donating the proceeds of an art auction to Cripple Creek. I also asked my friend Caroline Golon from The Happy Litter Box if she could help getting some litter donated for the cats. Boy did she come through! Caroline contacted the great folks at The World’s Best Cat Litter, and they agreed to donate a month’s supply of litter for 25 cats!

But wait, there’s more!

After receiving some local press for her efforts to rescue the Greentown Cats, Jill was contacted by another person needing help with a completely different colony of feral cats. Jill has agreed to help trap these cats, get them spayed and neutered and then release them where they will be maintained by the woman who contacted her. Each cat’s vetting costs at least $45, so Cripple Creek Could really use some extra resources.

Cripple Creek Ferals & Friends is not a large rescue group, but they are top notch, and I have no doubt that they will find a way to give these cats the best. A Chip-in has been created by the wonderful NipClub folks, who will be featuring them as their charity for tonight’s weekly Twitter “pawty” to raise funds for animal rescue. I have added the Chip-in to the sidebar to the right.

I hope you will consider lending your support to Cripple Creek Ferals and Friends. Every little bit helps. Thanks!