C.A.R.E.4Paws invites community members to kick off Domestic Violence Awareness Month by Walking Against Abuse, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1 at Elings Park in Santa Barbara.

The annual event raises funds and awareness for Safe Haven, a C.A.R.E.4Paws program that provides anonymous boarding or foster care for pets of domestic violence survivors.

Two dogs wearing orange bandanas pose on either side of a sign marking the start and finish of the Walk Against Abuse.
Walk Against Abuse raises money and awareness for Safe Haven. (Courtesy photo) Credit: Courtesy photo

Safe Haven was started in 2020 alongside several animal welfare partners and social welfare agencies, including Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County (DVS), to ensure pet owners can leave abusive partners and seek emergency shelter through DVS or a similar agency without fearing for the safety and well-being of their beloved pets.

Walk Against Abuse is a family-friendly event that includes a dog walk through Elings Park; activities for kids and adults; food; music and a presentation about how Safe Haven prevents suffering and saves lives, and how to become a Safe Haven foster family.

Entry is $25 for adults, $10 for children 12 and younger. Sponsor opportunities allow community members and local businesses to support the event as well as Safe Haven expenses, such as pet boarding fees, animal training, pet food, vaccines, spays/neuters, medical care and pet housing deposits.

“Domestic violence is everywhere around us, crossing all social and economic boundaries and education levels,” said Isabelle Gullö, C.A.R.E.4Paws’ cofounder/executive director.

Gullö said there’s a proven link between family violence and animal cruelty. Abuse often starts with a pet to control other family members and, because it’s difficult for survivors to find shelter with their companion animals, many stay in the abusive home to protect their pets.

“Safe Haven provides a much-needed refuge for vulnerable pets, while giving their loving owners a chance to escape the violence. C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Walk Against Abuse allows the community to come together to raise awareness and support for a truly critical cause and program,” she said.

Many Safe Haven pets stay with C.A.R.E.4Paws for several months or sometimes longer than a year, as it is difficult for survivors to rebuild their lives, let alone find pet-friendly housing.

In addition to DVS, other program collaborators include the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office Victim-Witness Assistance Program, and Good Samaritan Shelters, whose advocates are trained to help survivors of abuse. Survivors can also contact C.A.R.E.4Paws directly for help.

To learn more about the event and ticket/sponsor options, visit the Walk Against Abuse event website. For more about C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Safe Haven program, visit care4paws.org/safehaven or contact C.A.R.E.4Paws at info@care4paws.org or 805-968-2273.