DVMs play a vital role in supporting survivors of domestic violence

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Ensuring veterinary professionals have the tools they need to identify and respond to suspected cases of domestic violence is the goal of a newly funded program.

The nonprofit animal welfare organization RedRover received a $91,380 grant from the Adtalem Global Education Foundation.

The funding will support “Don’t Forget the Pets,” a collaborative project by RedRover and its partner, Greater Good Charities, to help domestic violence shelters create pet-friendly housing. Specifically, the grant will be used to create programs to educate veterinary staff on how to identify and respond when they encounter cases of domestic violence in their clinics.

“We are thrilled that this grant from the Adtalem Foundation will allow us to reach more veterinary professionals,” said RedRover President and CEO Nicole Forsyth. “Through the Remember Pets website, workshops and forum, we will help veterinary staff better understand the issue and their role in how they can support people and pets in crisis at the within their communities.”

According to RedRover, one in three women and one in four men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Given this prevalence of abuse and research showing the link between human and animal violence, it is likely that veterinary professionals are interacting with domestic violence survivors and their pets in their practice, according to the organization.

About half of women who have been victims of domestic violence say they delayed leaving their abuser out of fear for their pet’s safety. Additionally, 71% of women entering domestic violence shelters report that a pet in their home has been threatened, abused, or killed.

“Veterinarians can play such a crucial role in helping people and pets in crisis,” said Bryna Donnelly, vice president of pet programs for Greater Good Charities. “We hope this training opportunity will give them the tools to more fully help their communities.”

As part of the partnership, the grant will support a pilot training program available to alumni of Adtalem Veterinary School, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM). The program will then be expanded to provide training opportunities to a wider veterinary network.

“At Adtalem and across all of our institutions, we are committed to having a lasting impact on the communities in which we live and serve,” says RUSVM Dean, Sean Callanan, MVB, CertVR, MRCVS, PhD, FRCPath, DiplECVP. “Awareness raising is the first step to providing solutions to the pressing issues impacting the health of our global communities, and education and training are essential for change.”

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