Purple Paws Walk aims to keep pets safe during domestic violence situations
GARDNER ― It will be a walk in the park for a local organization dedicated to keeping household pets safe from domestic abuse situations.
The first annual Purple Paws Walk event is scheduled to take place at Pulaski Dog Park on Saturday, April 29. The event, which will run from 9 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., will feature live music, vendors, raffles, resource tables, a police K-9 demonstration, and a pet costume parade. The next Mayor of Dog Park will also be selected at the event, according to organizers.
Vendors invited to attend the event at 2 Charbonneau St. include pet salons, pet supply stores, dog-sitters, and anyone who works with animals, according to organizers.
The first annual Purple Paws Walk event is scheduled to take place at Pulaski Dog Park on Saturday, April 29.
Project dedicated to removing pets from domestic violence situations
The Purple Paws Pet Fostering Project, a collaboration between the Gardner Domestic Violence Task Force, Voices of Truth, and local animal shelters, is aimed at finding temporary foster shelters for domestic pets that are left behind when their owners are forced to leave home to escape a toxic relationship.
Bernice Richard, president of Voices of Truth and coordinator of the Gardner Domestic Violence Task Force, said the event was planned partly as a fundraiser to raise money for the fosters who temporarily take in pets and keep them while they wait to be reunited with their owners.
“It should be voluntary, which it is, but we feel that there should be some sort of monetary value to what they’re doing,” Richard said, adding that organizers estimated that it cost about $360 to keep a pet while its owner gets situated after leaving a toxic environment. “That’s not a low number, and we’re also talking about giving (the fosters) a stipend for their time.”
More: Purple Paws Project finds temporary homes for pets caught up in domestic abuse situations
A pet costume parade is scheduled to be part of the festivities at the first annual Purple Paws Walk event is scheduled to take place at Pulaski Dog Park on Saturday, April 29.
The Purple Paws project was established last year with an initial grant of $5,000 from the Gardner Yellow Birch Fund, Richard said. The program is supported via private donations and fundraising events.
“At any given time, we could get five pets – and we just need to be prepared,” she added.
Event aimed at having fun while raising money and awareness
Veronika Patty, the city’s prevention coordinator, said the event at the dog park was an opportunity for local pet owners to have fun while also raising money and highlighting awareness about the importance of the Purple Paw Project’s mission.
“Obviously, we need to buy food and address any health concerns the animals might have while they’re in foster care, but this event, like a lot of the other events that we do, also serves to educate the community about domestic violence and pet abuse – things that are not really talked about,” Patty explained.
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Having to leave a pet can keep a victim in a violent situation
Some victims of domestic violence are sometimes hesitant to leave a toxic situation, according to Patty, because they do want to leave a beloved pet behind to face possible abuse. The Purple Paws Project had proven to be an effective way to persuade those victims that their pets would be kept safe until they could be reunited with their owners.
“And it’s all confidential,” she added. “The owner doesn’t know where the pet is going to go and the foster person doesn’t know who the animal belongs to. When we’re dealing with domestic violence situations, safety is our number-one concern.”
The resource tables at the event would be manned by local organizations offering information about services available for victims of domestic abuse, mental illness and substance abuse. Other vendors will be on hand to offer products and services for pets and their owners, Patty said.
But the main focus of the rain-or-shine event will be fun, Patty added.
“It’s just a chance for you and your pet to get out there and be active after all of this snow that we’ve gotten,” she said. “We’re looking forward to a beautiful day to just be outside and enjoy the day.”
Several local businesses sponsoring event
Among the local organizations sponsoring the event are Brian’s Auto Body, Gardner Ale House, GFA, Anthony’s Liquor Store, and The Kitchen Garden.
In addition to Gardner, Purple Paws Project assists residents in Ashburnham, Westminster and Hubbardston. Word of the project has reached Fitchburg, where officials have expressed an interest in implementing their own version of the program, according to Richard.
“We’re assisting and helping people in other communities start their own similar programs,” she said.
Visit racewire.com/register.php?id=13326 to register for the event.
To find out more about the project, visit Purple Paws Pet Project at voicesoftruthcenter.org, email email@example.com, or leave a message at 978-699-0203.
All inquiries are kept confidential, Richard said.
This article originally appeared on Gardner News: Purple Paws Walk at Gardner dog park to assist foster care for pets