Lilly’s Lighthouse foster program offers safe haven for pets of abuse victims
By Michelle Williams
A new program in the greater Indianapolis area is making it possible for pet owners in abusive relationships to find safe haven for their furry friends. Lilly’s Lighthouse Foster Pet Program, administered through Beacon of Hope Center for Women, allows victims of domestic abuse to temporarily place their pets with foster homes during their transition.
“The program is the only one of its kind in central Indiana. A woman can’t take her pet into a domestic violence shelter, an emergency hotel or a homeless shelter. Our foster pet coordinator will work with our volunteer families and get the animal placed,” Beacon of Hope board member Leah Seigel said. “It’s usually dogs, but we’ve placed a horse before. We’ll find a place.”
Cheryl Mohs, who lives in northwest Indianapolis, was among the program’s first volunteers. She fostered two dogs for three months.
“This gives us an opportunity to help out other people but not have the financial expenses. We enjoy being able to help the owner out as well as the animals themselves.” Mohs said. “We plan on being available for whatever comes our way.”
The foster program recently received a $55,000 grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and plans to use the funds to add dedicated staff. The organization is beginning the interview process for a foster pet coordinator.
Seigel said approximately half of domestic violence victims report their abuser showed some sort of violence toward a pet, and statistics show two out of five domestic violence victims stay in abusive situation out of concern for the safety of their animal.
“(Lilly’s Lighthouse) puts them in a position where they don’t have to abandon their pet,” she said.
To learn more, visit beaconofhopeindy.org.