The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence has a new member of its team. This new individual is responsible for raising awareness about the connection between two types of violence: domestic and animal. So it seems fitting that this latest addition to the coalition is not a human, but Darby, a lovable Golden Retriever. “The addition of Darby allows our organization to expand its education efforts to a broader spectrum of Floridians, via social media, about the impact of domestic violence on our families, including our beloved pets,” said Tiffany Carr, President and CEO of FCADV. “Darby’s journey will raise awareness of existing programs and our new endeavors geared towards ending domestic violence.” Bringing a cuddly pooch onto the team is certainly one way to put a positive face on a tragic epidemic, Darby’s mission won’t be all sunshine and rainbows. In addition to “sharing photos and the details of her daily life as a dog fighting against domestic violence,” Darby’s fight is a serious one. According to the coalition, a woman is battered every 15-seconds. Worse, an average of three victims per day die at the hands of an abuser. In just one year 187 victims of domestic violence were killed. That’s 19 percent of all homicides in the state. And, as Darby’s new roll will illustrate, those numbers have a staggering impact on our four-legged friends and other family pets. The American Humane Association reports 71 percent of women seeking emergency shelter report their abuser had either injured, maimed, killed or threatened the family pet. Another 25-40 percent of abused women reportedly stay in abusive situations longer than they would have because they fear for the safety of their pets. It’s hypothesized that abusers take or threaten violent action on pets to either seek revenge or to psychologically control their victims. The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence hopes to generate additional funds to supplement efforts already underway to protect pets in abusive homes so that survivors may safely flee from their homes with their pets in tow. Currently many of Florida’s domestic violence centers already have kennels and/or partnerships with local vets. The coalition is the professional association representing Florida’s 42 domestic violence centers. The group also serves as the primary representative for survivors and their children when affecting public policy. Check out Darby’s Facebook page. Not only is she on a valiant mission, she’s pretty darn cute too.
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