APA starts program to help pets of domestic violence victims

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BRENTWOOD, MO (KPLR) – The APA of Missouri likes to keep an eye out for all kinds of animals.

'We`ve had cockatiels, guinea pigs and box turtles,' says Natalie Partenheimer, the Community & Media Relations Manager for the APA. 'All sorts of animals come through the program.'

And this program they offer is a one of a kind for the St. Louis area.

'Our Domestic Violence Pet Assistance Program has been around since 1997 and it assists women leaving abusive situations by fostering their pets while they're in domestic violence shelters,' says Partenheimer.

For the last 18 years, the place known for helping our fury friends has been working with area shelters to offer a foster home when it's most needed.

'Up to 40% of women, some studies show back in the 90's when we started this program, would stay with their abusers longer, they'd delay the departure or they would stay all together because of what would happen to their pets if they left them behind,' says Partenheimer.

That's the impetus for the program that temporarily cares for pets, until the eventual reunion.

'It's a big problem and a lot of the time these women have been isolated and they don't have a lot of friends or family,' says Partenheimer. 'They're reliant on their pets and they don't want to leave them behind.'

The APA of Missouri says the program has helped more than 200 women since 1997 and will continue to empower and foster those four legged friends who mean so much.