by Missie Forbes, Development Director, Domestic Violence Intervention Program
Iowa City, March 31, 2016
The Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP) is announcing its newest addition to our services. “Cooper’s House” is a program designed to provide traditional therapy and pet assisted therapy to the adults and children residing in our shelter. DVIP will develop and implement a trauma informed pet therapy program designed to influence healing through the spirit-mind-body connection, decreasing isolation and improving social interaction.
The Cooper's House program will not only include the use of a trained therapy dog for our clients who reside in and outside of shelter, but will also offer on-site kennels to our shelter residents who flee a dangerous situation with their pets.
In conjunction with this, we will be kenneling approximately 20 dogs or cats annually at our shelter property. Approximately 48% of women have refused to leave a dangerous situation for fear of their pet’s safety. This is critical because understanding the danger and need for foster services and kennels on shelter property means understanding the traumatic impact of being separated from a loved pet during crisis and homelessness. DVIP has successfully raised funds through a national program (RedRover) to renovate our shelter building in Johnson County for 3 internal and external dog kennels and 3 internal cat havens. RedRover’s mission is to help ensure at least one domestic violence shelter in each state has on-site kennels for victim’s pets. We are also excited to partner with the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center, as well as Leash on Life, a locally owned pet supply store. Construction for this project will begin this spring and will be fully functioning on-site kenneling starting in July of 2016.
DVIP is the only domestic violence shelter in Iowa that has an organized safe pet program. Through our current program we provide emergency kenneling with support from area veterinarians and animal shelters. In addition, we work with volunteers and Safe Haven, an animal rescue program in Iowa County, to foster animals while their family is in our shelter. Nearly every year, we oversee a fundraising campaign designed specifically to raise funds for our pet program. This fund is to assist families with food, medicine and medical care. In the past we have fostered 2 horses, 1 donkey, 1 potbelly pig and 8 piglets, 3 rats, 1 snake, 1 bearded dragon, 1 rabbit, 12 cats and 7 dogs. Many times our volunteer foster partners work with our families to make sure they see their pets throughout their stay in shelter.
DVIP is a United Way agency and relies on private donations to provide services to children and adults affected by violence. Our service area includes Johnson, Iowa, Washington, Cedar, Des Moines, Henry, Lee, and Van Buren Counties in Iowa. DVIP provided crisis intervention and support services to more than 1700 women, children and men last year, and received nearly 18,000 hotline calls. Along with our 24-hour crisis line and intervention services, we provide support advocacy services, youth services, and community education services.
Confidential information and assistance is available 24 hours a day at (319) 351-1043 or toll free at 1-800-373- 1043.