Aug 26, 2022 - News

Nashville's pet-friendly domestic violence shelter turns 1

Illustration of a birthday candle in a bowl of kibble.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Abbie's Safe Home, the state's largest emergency shelter for pets of victims of domestic violence in Tennessee, celebrated its one-year anniversary this week.

  • Since opening a year ago, staff tells Axios the shelter at the YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennesseeā€™s Weaver Domestic Violence Center has provided more than 1,200 nights of safety to 34 dogs and three cats.

Why it matters: Experts say women with pets who face domestic violence often delay leaving because they are worried about their pet's safety. Removing that barrier for women and families seeking help could save lives.

Flashback: Before Abbie's Safe Home opened, staff at the YWCA's Weaver Center, a 65-bed emergency shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence, worked to find alternative housing for pets with friends and foster families.

  • The YWCA in Nashville had been working toward an on-site pet shelter for several years.

What they're saying: Sharon Roberson, the president and CEO of YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee, tells Axios that opening Abbie's was a game-changer.

  • "We've had people who have said, 'But for this, I could not have left,'" Roberson says. "It is a choice an individual should not have to make in order to stay safe."

Zoom in: An anonymous testimonial on the YWCA website describes one client's search for a shelter that would let her bring her pet.

  • "I prayed and prayed about leaving and when I was finally able to do it, none of the shelters that I contacted accepted pets. My dog means everything to me, and I could not leave without her."

State of play: Abbie's Safe Home is an 800-square-foot facility with space for eight dogs and six cats.

  • The space includes an isolation room for injured pets, two outside play yards and a safe outdoor space for cats. The pet shelter also offers therapy for pets who have been abused themselves.
  • Roberson says she would like to expand the pet shelter in the future.

How to help: The YWCA is celebrating the pet shelter's milestone with an online fundraising drive.

  • Donations support veterinary care and pet supplies for families when they are ready to leave the shelter.

If you or someone you know is facing domestic violence, you can reach the YWCA's crisis and support helpline by calling 1-800-334-4628 or texting 615-983-5170.

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