Dogs Against Domestic Violence brings awareness to how domestic violence impacts pets

Dogs Against Domestic Violence brings awareness to how domestic violence impacts pets

Dogs Against Domestic Violence brings awareness to how domestic violence impacts pets
October 05
21:37 2018

About 50 people attended the first-ever Dogs Against Domestic Violence on Thursday, hosted by Denton County Friends of the Family at the Oak St. Drafthouse. Additionally, there were about 25 dogs in attendance.

The event was organized to bring awareness to how pets are impacted by domestic violence. The function was held in celebration of domestic violence awareness month. Dogs of all shapes and sizes were invited out for the event, and many were dressed in costumes for the contest.

“This is our first time to do this type of event,” said Cassandra Berry, Community Educator for Denton County Friends of the Family. “It was just a result of discussing what would be something that would get the community engaged, bring to the forefront another reality about domestic violence and so, ‘Dogs Against Domestic Violence.’”

Hillarye Hightower, director of the prevention, education and awareness program for Denton County Friends of the Family, was one of the organizers and served as the host.

“I think it was a great turn out for year one and if we decide to do it again next year we will just adjust and hope for cooler weather,” Hightower said.

Hightower said up to 43 percent of women trying to leave an abusive relationship or situation have to leave their pets at home with the abuser. This leads to pets becoming victims of abuse. She said up to 75 percent of women abused at home report that their pets are abused as well.

Additionally, she spoke about how pets are often neglected during natural disasters, ultimately leading to their death. She said whenever families decide to stay behind with their pets, it puts the family at risk and many people stand the risk of being killed by not evacuating.

“Pets should be included in safety planning processes,” Hightower said.

Brittony McNaughton, who works with Denton County Friends of the Family, wants to help raise awareness about domestic violence and let people know that there are resources available.

“I think it’s a great cause and I hope that everyone out here will spread the words and get more people to do at least one thing for domestic violence awareness month,” McNaughton said.

McNaughton’s Boston terrier, Tessa, won the overall costume contest in a unicorn outfit. McNaughton said her dog is an important part of her family and recognizes the risks that come along with owning a pet in an abusive situation.

“We love our pets, we care about our pets, so wanting to keep our pets safe can be a big barrier with someone needing to leave an abusive relationship,” McNaughton said. “Really being able to have options and alternatives for people that need to leave abusive relationships to have a safe place for their pets is important.”

Keith Wallace, an attendee of the event who helps rescue abused dogs all over Texas, takes pride in contributing toward reducing the effect of pet violence.

“It’s a neat, different avenue to rally people to the cause,” Wallace said. “Certainly, a cause that I support.”

Denton County Friends of the Family is holding a few more events including the Clothesline Project & Candlelight Vigil event happening later in October.

Featured Image: Ellie and her award winning Boston terrier Tessa wear their unicorn costumes at Dogs Against Domestic Violence, an event hosted by Denton county Friends of the Family in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month. Will Baldwin

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Jasmine Robinson

Jasmine Robinson

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