PITTSBURG, Kan. — Victims of domestic violence who may be considering fleeing from an abusive situation but are concerned for the well-being of their pets have yet another reason to not put up with further mistreatment.


Safehouse Crisis Center, Inc., in Pittsburg recently received a $2,500 donation from the Ronald O. Thomas Foundation, which originally paid for the construction of Safehouse’s animal shelter that opened three years ago, to make improvements to the shelter’s heating and cooling system, and those improvements have now been completed.


"We have victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, stalking and trafficking. When they come in if they have, you know, let’s say a dog that they need to bring with them, we can shelter their dog so that their animals stay safe while they’re in-shelter," said Safehouse Executive Director Brooke Powell.


"So it’s its own little animal shelter for clients that are fleeing violence coming into our shelter, they can bring their dogs or cats, and it’s heated and cooled and it has running water and their own dog run, so the dogs can, you know, go outside and run in their own space," Powell said.


Potential clients who would otherwise want to use Safehouse’s services but are afraid of what could happen to their pets if left with an abuser should know that there is a safe place for their "fur babies" to stay, Powell said.


"Because the animals can take the brunt end of the violence sometimes," she said. "A lot of times the animal can be a victim to that physical violence too. It’s just another way to control the victim. And so we know when victims need to leave, that sometimes they need to bring their animals too, and that’s OK."


Powell noted that Safehouse has been up and running and open to clients throughout the coronavirus pandemic over the last few months.


"We have had staff working remotely during some times and then back in the office," she said. "Our shelter is still open and we’re making accommodations to make sure that everybody can stay safe and healthy, but we’re still here. You know, it’s a hard time right now. It’s a hard time to weigh the options of leaving an abusive situation, but you know, we’re still here."


Safehouse has a hotline that abuse victims can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Powell said, at 1-800-794-9148.


Safehouse Crisis Center, founded in 1979, provides an emergency shelter for victims fleeing domestic violence, sexual violence, stalking and human trafficking, which can include both adults and children. Besides its shelter, Safehouse also provides outreach services in seven counties in Southeast Kansas, including Bourbon, Cherokee, Crawford, Labette, Linn, Montgomery, and Wilson counties.