Lucy Hale, Instagram
Most pet owners treat their furry friends like members of the family. In order to bring awareness to the fact that pets are a huge factor in cases of domestic violence, Pretty Little Liars alum Lucy Hale and her pup Elvis teamed up with the Purple Leash Project in honor of October's National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Together, the aim is to make pet parents aware of how abuse can affect our four-legged friends.
According to Hale, she is working to create safe places for people to escape abuse without having to abandon their pets, who often play key roles in emotional support. Even more importantly, she notes that sometimes, men or women won't leave an abuser out of fear of having to leave their pets behind in the home.
"Pets are a huge part of the family — Elvis is no exception," Hale captioned an October 1st Instagram post. "Many victims of domestic violence will stay where they are out of fear of leaving their pets behind."
She continued, "1 in 3 women, and 1 in 4 men, will experience domestic abuse in their lifetimes. This is an issue that is extremely close to my heart because without our pets, who would we be? That is why, in honor of #DomesticViolenceAwareness month, I’m Taking the Lead by partnering with @purina and @redroverorg to raise awareness about the #PurpleLeashProject – a project that is dedicated to creating safe places for people and their pets to escape abuse together."
According to Purina's Purple Leash Project portal, only 10% of domestic violence shelters accept pets despite more than 70% of women in these shelters report that their abuser threatened, harmed, or killed their pet in order to assert control.
Because of their desire to keep their pet safe, nearly half people being abused choose to stay in their abusive situation rather than seek help.
"This lack of pet-friendly shelters often leaves victims with a heartbreaking decision of enduring abuse in order to stay with their pet or leave their pet behind," Hale said in a statement to People. "I immediately had passion for this cause because I can’t imagine having to make that choice. No one should have to."
"Purina has committed over $950,000 in grants to help fund key renovations such as pet supplies, vet assistance, outdoor play areas, indoor/outdoor kennels and more," Hale continued. "The Purple Leash Project is working to ensure that there is at least one pet-friendly shelter in every state, but by 2025 their goal is for 25% of U.S. domestic violence shelters to become pet-friendly."
On October 22nd, both the Purple Leash Project and Hale ask pet owners to help raise awareness about the issue of abuse and pet ownership by posting a photo of themselves wearing purple and their pet to Instagram and Facebook using the hashtag #PurpleLeashProject.
You can also learn more about the link between pet ownership and domestic violence over on the official Purple Leash Project homepage, where you can donate to the cause and learn how to spread further awareness.
If you are a survivor of domestic violence and need help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). You are not alone.