WASHINGTON -- Allie Phillips was prosecuting a domestic violence case
in Michigan in the late 1990s. She was ready to go to trial when the
victim came to her and said, "I can't do this. He's already killed my
dog. I still have two other dogs and a goat. I've got to go back and
protect them." The victim didn't testify. Phillips lost the case. And
to this day, she doesn't know what became of the abused woman or her
"That was my first awareness that people will go back into abusive
situations because of their pets," she said.
So when Phillips became director of public policy at the American
Humane Association, which works to protect children and animals from
cruelty, abuse and neglect, she decided to tackle the issue head on.
"I thought, what if we get the animals out, too?" she said. "Then they
won't be forced to show up in court and recant. If we can get everyone
out, why would they ever go back? That could end the cycle of
Phillips came up with the Pets and Women Shelter, or PAWS, a national
education campaign to raise awareness about the issue and to encourage
shelters to do something about it. Her first project is with the
Doorways for Women and Families Safehouse in Arlington, Va. PAWS
awarded Doorways a $5,000 grant to turn an old shed in the back yard
into a kennel and animal shelter.
Phillips is writing a manual to show shelters how to house victims and
their pets. Her immediate goal is Arlington, and she is striving for
15 other shelters by the end of 2008.
"If you are in the business of trying to protect women and keeping
them from going back into abusive homes, then you've got to get the
pets out," she said. "We have to get all the victims out of the home."