Aid available for pets of domestic violence victims

MARQUETTE — If a woman who owns a pet is a victim of domestic abuse, the pet will also be abused most of the time.

The Marquette Women’s Center has started a new program, the Sasawin Project, that will include pets as part of its survivors assistance.

The Sasawin Project recently kicked off. It includes veterinary care, foster care and basic care items to pets that accompany women when they are fleeing an abusive situation.

Local veterinarians attending a recent open house say this program is greatly needed in the community.

“We’ve had concern with some of our clients and we didn’t know where to turn to on our end. Now that we know there will be a networking situation with the Women’s Center, it looks like it will be a perfect situation,” said Scott Jandron of Northern Veterinary Associates of Ishpeming.

Sasawin means ‘nest’ or ‘safe place’. The goal of the program is to assist women who want to leave but are prevented from doing so because their pet is also in danger. Many survivor programs don’t provide pet care.

Katherine Niemann, the research assistant for the Sasawin Project, reports that “probably at least three in four women who are abused also report that their animal is abused. It is believed that between the women who either refuse to leave for the sake of their animal or delay leaving for the sake of their animals or return because of their animal, it is as high as 50%.”

“It is a way for us to not only provide care for the animal but if we care for the animal, we can care for the survivor and we can support that human animal bond,” Sasawin Project director Helen Kuhn said.

The Sasawin project is a joint effort of the Women’s Center, UPAWS and Northern Michigan University. If you want to get involved, you can call (906) 225-1346 or (906) 226-6611.