Media Contact:
Ivon Mesa
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Miami-Dade County Community Action and Human Services Department partners with Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department on the Healing Together Project

Victims of domestic violence can now bring their pets when seeking refuge at Miami-Dade County domestic violence shelters.

MIAMI ( October 30, 2020 )

In commemoration of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Miami-Dade County Community Action and Human Services Department (CAHSD) and Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department (Animal Services) launches the Healing Together Project to further eliminate barriers victims of domestic violence face when fleeing abuse. The Healing Together Project is funded through a $25,000 grant from PetSmart Charities®. Through this grant, Animal Services can provide pet food, pet supplies and assist with other pet needs for families in domestic violence shelters.

The Healing Together Project is rooted in holistic care and promotes the implementation of the only pet-inclusive domestic violence shelter program in Miami-Dade County. The project includes on-site pet friendly crates and enclosures, as well as pet supplies that will allow victims and their dependents to care for their pets and keep them by their side during their journey of healing.

“Miami-Dade County offers a variety of responsive and supportive services to victims of domestic violence, and this innovative collaboration with Animal Services further strengthens the County’s response to serving victims in our three emergency shelters,” said Annika S. Holder, CAHSD Interim Director.

Pets are often abused by the perpetrators of domestic violence and can become the reason for a victim to postpone fleeing the abusive relationship. A study by the Council of Accreditation (COA) concluded that “roughly 71% of pet-owning women who enter emergency shelters have indicated their abusive partners had, at some point, injured, killed or threatened family pets as a form of psychological control or leverage.”

Kelly Balthazor, Regional Relationship Manager at PetSmart Charities, said, “Far too often pet parents forgo their own safety out of fear of what may happen to their pet. We are proud to support the Healing Together Project, which serves as a vital resource that ensures Miami-Dade County pets and pet parents remain together as they transition to a safe environment.”

Few domestic violence shelters accept victims with pets. “The Healing Together Project will make the difference between staying in an abusive situation and finding safety for victims with pets. This partnership will ensure that domestic violence victims can seek safety in our shelters with their pets, receive proper care and heal together,” said CAHSD Bureau Chief Ivon Mesa.

“Pets are an important part of our families and provide invaluable emotional support when we are going through traumatic experiences. Through our various Pet Retention Programs, we work with pet families to keep them and their pets together,” said Animal Services Director Alex Muñoz. “Being able to assist victims of domestic violence and their families during the healing process by allowing them to flee their abusive situation and take their beloved four-legged companions with them can be pivotal to helping them take that first step in beginning the next chapter of their lives.”

About Miami-Dade County Community Action and Human Services Department (CAHSD)
CAHSD is nationally accredited and the largest provider of comprehensive social services in Miami-Dade County. Services are offered to individuals and families at every stage of life, from before birth to the elderly, and are designed and coordinated to address and relieve hardships associated with poverty. For more information about the Community Action Agency Board or to learn more about the Miami-Dade Community Action and Human Services Department programs, please call 786-469-4600 or visit us on the web at For more information about Violence Prevention and Intervention Services and this project, please call 305-285-5900 or visit us on the web.

About Miami-Dade Animal Services Department
Every year Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department (Animal Services) provides care and refuge for 28,000 to 30,000 lost and abandoned dogs and cats. Every day, Animal Services staff works diligently to find life-long homes for these abandoned animals by facilitating onsite adoptions, hosting off-site adoptions at events and locations throughout the community, and working collaboratively with rescue organizations, volunteers and adoption partners. For more information, call 311 or visit Follow Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department on social media @AdoptMiamiPets.

About PetSmart Charities®
PetSmart Charities, Inc. is committed to finding lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together. Through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart® stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, PetSmart Charities helps to find forever homes and families for more than 500,000 shelter pets each year. PetSmart Charities also provides grant funding to nonprofits aligned with its mission. Each year, millions of generous PetSmart shoppers help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities using the PIN pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores. In turn, PetSmart Charities efficiently uses more than 90 cents of every dollar donated to fulfill its role as the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, granting nearly $430 million since its inception in 1994. Independent from PetSmart Inc., PetSmart Charities is a 501(c)(3) organization that has received the Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator, a third-party organization that reports on the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of nonprofits, for the past 17 years in a row – placing it among the top one percent of charities rated by this organization. To learn more, visit

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