How Does Entry Into The SAAV Program Occur?
To qualify for The SAAV Program, victims must be receiving services through our local domestic abuse organization, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS), at the time of intake into our program. The SAAV Program is available to victims receiving any services from DAIS -- it is not limited to victims staying in the DAIS shelter. Victims make their initial contact with us and complete the application process with the assistance of a DAIS case worker. The application process requires the completion of a variety of paperwork, including an intake application, pet personality profile, veterinary authorization, and waiver/liability release. If an animal is accepted into The SAAV Program, we typically provide our shelter services by matching the animal to a confidential foster home through our network of foster volunteers. Precisely how SAAV animals are transferred in and out of shelter varies, depending on the circumstances of each individual case.
Do Animals In The SAAV Program Receive Veterinary Care?
SAAV animals receive some routine veterinary care from the Dane County Humane Society (DCHS), at no cost to the domestic abuse victims we serve. The routine veterinary care provided (some of which depends upon the species of the animal), includes: a physical examination, certain vaccinations, de-worming medication, flea medications/treatment, and spay/neuter surgery (if elected by the domestic abuse victim). Veterinary services (such as emergency veterinary care) above and beyond routine care items may be provided by SAAV in certain circumstances at no cost to the victim on a case by case basis, in our sole discretion, based on, among other things, the needs of the particular animal and the availability of funds. Upon checkout from the SAAV Program, SAAV provides a wellness kit to help the victims we serve provide for the wellness of their animals after they are reunited with them. The wellness kit includes food (compliments of Mounds Pet Food Warehouse) and six months of flea/tick preventative and heart worm medication and among other things.
Are All SAAV Animals Sheltered In A Foster Home?
It is our goal to place animals in a foster home setting. There are, however, situations where an animal is not appropriate for foster placement. SAAV animals are temperament tested by staff at DCHS to determine suitability for foster placement. Animals that DCHS deems inappropriate for foster placement may still be admitted into The SAAV Program, in our discretion, however, the animal would then be sheltered in a confidential location, but not in a foster home setting. The same is true if we accept an animal, but cannot locate an appropriate foster home match for the animal.
Are There Eligibility Requirements For The SAAV Program?
Yes -- our mission is to serve both human and animal victims of domestic abuse. Although there are a wide variety of reasons why persons may need temporary shelter for their animals, such as homelessness or joblessness, we are unfortunately unable to help persons that are not currently victims of domestic abuse.
To qualify for The SAAV Program, the domestic abuse victim must reside in Dane County, Wisconsin, and must be receiving shelter or other services from Domestic Abuse Intervention Services at the time of intake into The SAAV Program. We accept animals based on a variety of factors, including, among other things, the availability of a foster home. We reserve the right to determine, in our sole discretion and in collaboration with DAIS and DCHS, which persons and animals we will (or will not) accept into The SAAV Program. On limited occasions, we have had to terminate participation, such as due to an animal's behavioral issues.
What Do You Mean When You Say That Participation In The SAAV Program is Confidential?
The identity of domestic abuse victims we serve is not released outside of SAAV, DCHS and DAIS without the written authorization of the domestic abuse victim or unless required by law. While participating in The SAAV Program, domestic abuse victims receive updates regarding their animals through their case worker at DAIS. However, for safety reasons, the victim and her animal do not have any contact during the shelter period and the identity of the victim and her matched foster family is never shared. Likewise, the victim does not have contact with the foster parent or other care provider for her animal. All communications with the victim regarding the well-being of her animal occurs through DAIS.
How Long Can An Animal Remain In Shelter in The SAAV Program?
The maximum shelter period is 90 days. The victims we serve must renew their participation in The SAAV Program at 30 days and again at 60 days. Thereafter, arrangements will be made to either release the animal back to the victim, or, if the victim chooses, to surrender the animal to DCHS. Due to resources, we cannot provide shelter for animals for more than 90 days. Therefore, the 90 day shelter period is strictly enforced to ensure that program resources are available to assist as many victims as possible.
Are The Victim And Her Animal Always Reunited After The Shelter Period?
Our goal is to reunite the domestic abuse survivor and her animal at the end of the shelter period. However, that is not always the end result. Sometimes a domestic abuse survivor chooses to relinquish her animal to DCHS, while another survivor may, for a variety of complicated reasons, return to living with her abuser. Research shows that on average it takes a domestic abuse victim seven attempts to leave her abuser before she is able to do so for good. Barriers to leaving an abusive relationship include, among other things, the emotional trauma of the abuse, lack of resources (both financial and other), and continued fear for her safety, the safety of children, and the safety of animals. Our ultimate goal is to remove a barrier to victims leaving by providing safe harbor for their animals and to hopefully facilitate the opportunity for permanent safety.
How Many Animals Has The SAAV Program Helped?
We have provided confidential, temporary shelter to approximately 197 animals (as of 12/2015) affected by domestic abuse. These animals stayed in shelter while their human family was staying in a domestic abuse shelter or living with a relative or friend who could not also house the animal. We have provided shelter for a variety of beloved animals, including: dogs, cats, turkeys, turtles, birds, horses, goats, iguanas, and even a little hamster named Faith.