Did you know that 68% of battered women report violence toward their pets? Some studies show that close to 50% of abused women stayed in relationships because they could not take their pet with them to a shelter. With these alarming statistics in mind, Shelter House, the domestic violence center serving Okaloosa and Walton counties, is proud to announce the Purple Paws Kennel, an on-site pet kennel in its emergency shelter.
“Domestic violence victims in our community will no longer have to choose between their own safety and the safety of their pet,” said Shelter House Executive Director Michelle Sperzel. “Pets can be a tremendous source of comfort during stressful times and being able to keep their pets close by will help the people we serve as they begin their healing process.”
The Purple Paws Kennel, which will have its groundbreaking in January, is the first of its kind in Northwest Florida. Dogs, cats and other small animals, such as pocket pets and fish, will be accepted in the shelter. Opening the emergency shelter to animals includes the designation of a pet-friendly room as well as adding a dog kennel, dog run and cat room. Shelter House has partnered with PAWS and Alaqua Animal Refuge to foster animals that cannot be accommodated on-site such as exotic animals and livestock.
Funding for the initial build has been generously donated by the Dugas Family Foundation. “Our board was very impressed with both the mission of Shelter House and its leadership,” said Cabot Pyle, Executive Director of the Dugas Family Foundation. “Michelle is a compelling advocate for the women the organization serves and for her staff. Lending their support to this effort was a unanimous and enthusiastic decision by the family.”
The Purple Paws Kennel will house, feed and provide veterinary services for the pets of the more than 250 women and children who stay at the shelter annually.
In addition to in-kind veterinary and grooming services, Shelter House is seeking the following items: pet food, food and water bowls, treats, food bins, kitty litter, litter boxes, litter scoops, leashes, harnesses, leads, collars, ID tags, bedding, toys, cat climbers and scratch posts, pet medication and vitamins, flea and tick medication, shampoo, brushes and combs, nail clippers, washing machine, dryer, mini refrigerator for medication and a bench for the dog run.
Donations can be dropped off at the Shelter House administrative office located at 102 Buck Drive in Fort Walton Beach or at Furry Fanatics at Gulf Place on 30A in Santa Rosa Beach. Monetary donations can be made online at www.shelterhousenwfl.org. For more information please call 243-1201.