UW Combined Fund Drive

May 1, 2023

Help survivors – and their pets – escape abuse

Nearly half of relationship abuse survivors delay leaving because they can’t take their pet with them – but only a handful of domestic violence shelters in the U.S. accept pets. 

Luckily, there are organizations working to make more shelters pet friendly, so abuse survivors and their pets can get away and heal together.

Relationship violence statistics suggest that approximately one out of every three women and one in four men experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetimes. For survivors of relationship violence, pets are family members who provide vital, unconditional love and support. However, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 70 percent of women in domestic violence shelters report their abuser threatened, injured or killed a pet as a means of control.

Related: Supporting sexual assault survivors

With only 17 percent of domestic violence shelters accepting pets, the decision to escape can be difficult. No one wants to leave a beloved pet behind, which is why almost 50% of domestic abuse survivors delay leaving their abuser.

Advocating for pet-friendly shelters: The Purple Leash Project

The purple leash serves as a symbol of the invisible struggle domestic abuse survivors and their pets face. Purple represents domestic violence awareness, and the leash symbolizes the unbreakable bond between pets and their people.

Today, every state has at least 1 pet-friendly domestic violence shelter, but the need is still great. The Purple Leash Project, a partnership launched in 2019 between Red Rover and Purina, helps survivors and pets find safety together and spread awareness of the issue. The goal is for 25% of U.S. domestic violence shelters become pet-friendly by 2025.

Red Rover is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring animals out of crisis and strengthen the bond between people and animals through emergency sheltering, disaster-relief services, financial assistance, and education.


You can support the Purple Leash Project by donating directly through their secure website (the program is not yet part of the Combined Fund Drive) or by volunteering to help animals in need.

If you’d like to support or volunteer at a safe haven for pets of people experiencing relationship violence, search the Safe Havens Mapping Project

Additionally, you can make a one-time gift or set up monthly payroll deduction through the UWCFD to one of our member organizations actively working to prevent sexual violence and help survivors:

Sexual Violence Law Center (charity code 1482958): is a survivor-led nonprofit law firm that protects the privacy, safety and civil rights of survivors. Our advocacy is trauma-informed and based in race and gender equity principles.

Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress (charity code 0319580): provides 24/7 care for sexual assault and medical forensic consultation. Also offers therapy services and Foster Care Assessment Program (FCAP).

King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (charity code 0316249): serves survivors and their families throughout King County with a 24/7 hotline to offer support and provide information to aid in deciding next steps.

If you or someone you know needs to talk, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, TTY1-800-787-3224 or text “START” to 88788.