Minnesota domestic abuse shelter also keeps pets safe

It is a place women can go when they don't feel safe anywhere else, and now, a domestic abuse shelter in St. Cloud is taking in victims' pets as well. And it's the only one of its kind in the state.

Anna Marie’s Alliance does 3 things:

1. It's therapeutic for the women escaping abusers to be with their pets.
2. It's also a shelter for pets because there's a correlation between domestic abuse of people, and pets
3. It encourages women to escape those that abused them rather than worry about what to do with their pets.

“Even though we're across the parking lot, they know that they're safe and sound, and it's happy over here,” said Margaret Bushinger with Anna Marie’s.

“I was working overnight, and police brought in a family that needed to flee domestic abuse in the middle of the night, and the little boy started crying because he wanted to go home because he knew if they made the dad mad, he would probably injure his pet,” she continued.

That is how the Petsafe home at Anna Marie’s was born. It has room for dogs, cats and people.

“They've said it's been a lifesaver for them. They wouldn't have left if they couldn't have brought their animals long,” said Charles Hempeck, the shelter’s executive director.

Hempeck will tell anyone this is about more than giving pets a place to hang.

“When violence is in the home, it affects everybody. So it impacts the women, the children, as well as the pets,” he said.

The shelter is also therapeutic and has a television with animal-themed movies and cheerful places to rest. The Petsafe home will officially be dedicated next month, but the shelter has had pets in it almost ever since it opened in December.

Learn how to get help at http://www.annamaries.org/