Most Shared

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.

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

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.

Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
True

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

Keep Reading Show less

Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Pete Buttigieg is having a moment. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana keeps trending on social media for his incredibly eloquent explanations of issues—so much so that L.A. Times columnist Mary McNamara has dubbed him "Slayer Pete," who excels in "the five-minute, remote-feed evisceration." From his old-but-newly-viral explanation of late-term abortion to his calm calling out of Mike Pence's hypocrisy, Buttigieg is making a name for himself as Biden's "secret weapon" and "rhetorical assassin."

And now he's done it again, this time taking on the 'originalist' view of the Constitution.

Constitutional originalists contend that the original meaning of the words the drafters of the Constitution used and their intention at the time they wrote it are what should guide interpretation of the law. On the flip side are people who see the Constitution as a living document, meant to adapt to the times. These are certainly not the only two interpretive options and there is much debate to be had as to the merits of various approaches, but since SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett is an originalist, that view is currently part of the public discourse.

Buttigieg explained the problem with originalism in a segment on MSNBC, speaking from what McNamara jokingly called his "irritatingly immaculate kitchen." And in his usual fashion, he totally nails it. After explaining that he sees "a pathway to judicial activism cloaked in judicial humility" in Coney Barrett's descriptions of herself, he followed up with:

Keep Reading Show less

The English language is constantly evolving, and the faster the world changes, the faster our vocabulary changes. Some of us grew up in an age when a "wireless router" would have been assumed to be a power tool, not a way to get your laptop (which wasn't a thing when I was a kid) connected to the internet (which also wasn't a thing when I was a kid, at least not in people's homes).

It's interesting to step back and look at how much has changed just in our own lifetimes, which is why Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool is so fun to play with. All you do is choose a year, and it tells you what words first appeared in print that year.

For my birth year, the words "adult-onset diabetes," "playdate," and "ATM" showed up in print for the first time, and yes, that makes me feel ridiculously old.

It's also fun to plug in the years of different people's births to see how their generational differences might impact their perspectives. For example, let's take the birth years of the oldest and youngest members of Congress:

Keep Reading Show less