Alissa had to leave a rabbit behind when she fled her abusive partner. She said her daughter cries over the bunny — but nothing else. "It was harder to leave the rabbit than it was to leave our possessions," she said. "[It's] like being separated from a member of the family."
Jennifer struggled at IHO without the emotional support provided by Daisy, her 14-year-old golden retriever. "Daisy is my life," says Jennifer. "She's everything to me. Some women choose to have pets instead of children and you worry about their safety as others would worry about their children." Jennifer made the decision to leave her abuser when "he started hurting Daisy as a way of hurting me," but could not bring Daisy into a shelter. She was fortunate enough to place Daisy in foster care for the duration of her stay at IHO — six months — but she was not allowed to see Daisy during that time. "There was no one to lick away my tears and bring me toys. I had difficulty coping," Jennifer says of her time without her companion. "It affected my sleep, not having Daisy as my comfort." Instead, Jennifer watched videos of Daisy that she filmed when preparing to leave her violence relationship. Jennifer believes that a program for women to bring pets into shelter would enable more women to leave abuse.