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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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via Forbes / YouTube

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 18, gave a blistering critique to a House of Representatives panel on Thursday, focusing on the country's fossil fuel subsidies.

Thunberg appeared virtually at the two-day Earth Day summit where the Biden Administration announced its pledge to slash U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.

Thunberg has become an international climate icon after delivering impassioned speeches to the United Nations and inspiring the largest climate change protest in history in 2019.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.