PORT RICHEY — A dog might be a man’s best friend, but sometimes man treats a dog as a hostage rather than a friend.
“Pet abuse is one of the first signs of domestic violence,” said Lynn Needs, Salvation Army domestic violence program director.
Abusers often threatened to harm a beloved pet in order to convince a domestic violence victim against leaving home, Needs explained.
“That’s a way to control that victim if they don’t comply that possibly the pet will be attacked or killed,” Needs said.
To help circumvent pets as hostages, the Salvation Army recently set up Sharon’s Dog Run on the grounds of the DV shelter thanks to donors Sharon and Robert Lichter.
“Good things also come to the Lord’s furry little creatures,” Maria C. Matheus wrote in a press release as public relations coordinator and corps liaison for Salvation Army here.
“Not only do victims of domestic violence have a safe haven to go to, but now their dog’s have a safe environment as well,” Matheus said.
Three dogs are staying at the temperature-controlled kennel, which includes a cage where they can run. The canines also can play outdoors in a small exercise area.
The Lichters donated the funds to build the dog run shelter, including fencing.
So a victim can flee to the shelter, which is in an undisclosed location, to seek safety and bring a pet dog with them, Needs said.
Demand continues to increase at the DV shelter, which typically serves 300 to 400 victims a year, Needs said.
Since all services are free at the shelter, a June 26 benefit will raise funds for the program, Needs said.
The Peace Breakfast will take place 7-8:30 a.m. that day in the auditorium of the Salvation Army Pasco Corps headquarters, 7745 Ridge Road. Social time starts at 7 a.m. with the program following at 8:30 a.m.
Tickets cost $25 apiece. For more information telephone Matheus at (727) 815-8539 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.