New program helps DV victims, veterans with pets

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

A new program will help domestic violence victims and veterans who are pet owners receiving free boarding. 

"It's a dream. I keep telling Sarah, she's just raining magic on us because we're very, very excited," said Debbie Shaffer with the Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita.

The Safe Paws Alliance (SPA) program will help veterans and victims of domestic violence board their pets for free, while they seek services or treatment.

"I never realized that if a person who's in a dangerous situation leaves and that pet is left behind, it's often hurt, injured, killed as a kind of emotional retaliation against the partner that has left," said Sarah Coffman, founder of Wichita Animal Action League (WAAL).

Coffman and various non-profit organizations in Wichita have been discussing this new programs for several months. 

She wants to ease pet owners into getting services and treatment.

"Please don't be scared to use this program. Your identity is safe. Your pet is safe. You're going to be safe," she said. "We're just excited and we hope that people partake."

The SPA program is a partnership between the Wichita Family Crisis Center, Catholic Charities Harbor House, Dole VA Hospital, and Midwest Battle Buddies.

It is supported by WAAL, Indian Hills Animal Hospital, and a $4,500 grant from The Petco Foundation.

"We have a lot of fosters who have volunteered to transport, to and from. We have a great vet partner who's agreed to put her services into this, Dr. Neisius. It's just been really great to see everyone come together and put as much effort and energy into this," said Coffman.

To get assistance from this program, you can contact any of these partner organizations.

Wichita Family Crisis Center (316) 263-7501
Catholic Charities Harbor House (316) 263-6000
Dole VA Hospital (316) 685-2221
Midwest Battle Buddies midwestbattlebuddies@gmail.com

For more information about WAAL, click here.