Most domestic abuse shelters don't accept pets, leaving women with a hard choice to make.

Too many women are having to choose between their safety and their pets.

Heather Gamble knew she had to leave home for her own safety when her then-boyfriend became violent. But abandoning her pets — that was an impossible decision.

‌“By the time I was thinking about leaving, my dog was nearly 2 years old, and at that point, it was a bond like what parents have with children," she says. "Pets can sort of take that place in your heart and life.”

Heather and her dog, Nala. Photos courtesy of Heather Gamble.


Loved ones tried to convince her to leave her dog and two cats at an animal shelter. But those animals had been by her side as she endured physical and verbal abuse. During one particular argument, Gamble says her abuser kicked her dog Nala. These animals were family and couldn't be left behind.

Luckily, a local women’s shelter had just received a grant that allowed women and their animals to stay there. Gamble and her pets moved in immediately.

But not everyone has access to an animal-friendly shelter the way Gamble did.

In fact, it's estimated that fewer than 5% of domestic violence shelters allow pets.

Many women in situations of domestic violence are unwilling to leave their beloved animals behind. Studies have shown that 48% of domestic violence victims delay leaving abusive relationships in part due to concern for their pets' welfare.

When Jen Rice — a rescue-cat owner and founder of the domestic violence charity My Cat Kyle — learned this, she knew she needed to do something about it.

Rice adopted her cat Kyle in 2010. When she learned he was rescued from an abusive home, she did some digging online about women and their animals in domestic violence situations.

Photo courtesy of Jen Rice.

She was shocked that resources weren't available for women and their pets. "As a pet owner, I empathized. While I've personally never been in such a situation, I could relate because Kyle is like my child. I had to do something about it," Rice says.

Kyle and his mustachioed good cause have become somewhat of an internet sensation.

Photo courtesy of Jen Rice.

Thanks to Kyle's celebrity, Rice raises money by selling My Cat Kyle swag and accepts donations for organizations like URINYC and Red Rover, which tackle the process of untangling the red tape associated with bringing pets on site at domestic abuse shelters.

The goal is to make more women’s shelters animal-friendly.

This work is important because on top of the emotional attachment they feel toward their pet, women often experience fear and guilt at the thought of leaving an animal with their abuser.

“Many people who are in domestic violence situations report that their abuser has threatened, injured, or killed their pet," Rice explains. "So not only are you separated, but you're putting your pet in danger. It's like condemning your pet to death."

Further, Rice says, when pets are left behind, they're used as a tool of emotional distress to manipulate victims into coming back.

Rice's quest goes beyond simply helping a woman leave an abusive relationship. It extends into the recovery process too.

"The reality is an animal's presence is very therapeutic," says Rice. Allowing a survivor of domestic abuse to keep their pet in shelter reduces the chances of returning to the dangerous situation and also releases the woman from further ties or control that the abuser may have over them.  

There are enough barriers in the way of an escape route from an abusive relationship. With the help of donations to places like My Cat Kyle, Rice hopes to remove some of the fear women have in leaving violent situations and to help clear the way for those hurting in silence.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture