A woman plays with her dog in a small salon of Noah's pet store. These spaces, called "rest rooms" by staff and residents, allow victims of domestic violence to connect with their pets and seek care in a safe and welcoming environment.
Located on the campus of the Shade Tree Women's Shelter in Southern Nevada, Noah's Animal House provides a shelter for domestic animals survivors of domestic violence. Often, victims of domestic violence stay in abusive situations out of fear for the welfare of their pets.
"Women will not leave if they can not bring their pets," said Staci Alonso, founder of Noah's Animal House.
For 11 years as Noah's opened on the Shade Tree campus, the shelter has allowed families to stay safe and gather more than 1,400 pets. Noah's Animal House is also part of the PAWS Act Coalition, an organization that has worked to make the Domestic and Domestic Animal Safety Act (PAWS) a federal law.
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The PAWS Act was passed by Congress as part of the 2018 Farm Improvement Act, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill. The PAWS Act establishes grants for shelters for victims of domestic violence to secure funding for pet-friendly programs, such as Noah's Animal House, in the United States.
Alonso said Nevada was gradually protecting victims of domestic violence and their pets, but the PAWS Act will ensure that other states can provide better care for pet owners fleeing violence and abuse, so that more women's shelters can become pets.
"Abusers often threaten to harm or inflict violence on a domestic animal to control their victims," said Nathaniel Fields, president and CEO of the Urban Resource Institute (URI) of New York, in a statement. a statement. URI provides social services to victims of domestic violence and their pets and is also part of the PAWS Act coalition.
In Las Vegas, Alonso says Noah's Animal House hosts an average of 130 to 150 pets and nearly 10,000 free boarding nights a year. "Women are staying in Shade Tree longer now because the affordable housing market is so tight," she said. On average, a woman stays in Shade Tree for two months. Noah's make sure that their furry loved ones also have a home.
On the Shade Tree campus, pets and their owners are no more than a building. Noah's offers dog tracks, cat condos and indoor and outdoor cuddle rooms where animals can play and have a good time with their humans.
In terms of helping victims of domestic violence, Alonso said that pets were "an important part of the solution."
"We wanted to provide a welcoming environment so that they could feel normal for a moment," said Alonso. "The magic lies in the unconditional love that a pet provides to a woman and a child in these conditions."