In 2017, while working on a project for Eastside Legal Assistance Program, a non-profit that provides free legal assistance to survivors of domestic violence in King County, I was asked by the Managing Attorney to make a few phone calls on behalf of a client in crisis. The client had recently escaped an abusive situation with a 3-year old dog and was unable to find safe shelter because she had a dog. I was asked to “make a few phone calls” to find a place that would take her dog on a temporary basis until the survivor was able to find a safe and stable environment. After spending nearly four hours on the phone, my efforts were unsuccessful. Finally, one of the volunteers at Eastside Legal Assistance Program was able to talk her brother into taking the dog until the survivor to reclaim it. That incident woke me up to an enormous need not being filled for survivors of domestic violence and the first seed for Two at a Time was planted.
Although approximately one million pets in this country are harmed, tortured, or killed every year because of domestic violence that occurs in the homes where they live, nationwide, fewer than 1 in 8 domestic violence shelters are able accept pets. As a result, concern for the welfare of their beloved pets prevents or delays over 50% of victims from escaping domestic violence, sometimes at their own peril.
As I continued to research the link between domestic violence and animal cruelty, I discovered Ahimsa House, a non-profit organization in Atlanta, Georgia that has been providing care and safety to the pets of those fleeing domestic violence for over 16 years. I reached out to the Executive Director of Ahimsa, Myra Rasnick, and a relationship of mentoring and friendship was born. In June of 2018 I traveled to Atlanta, stayed with Myra and her family, and went with her to work for several days to learn the day-to-day operations. My deepest gratitude goes to Myra and the staff at Ahimsa House for providing the model, mentoring, and support needed to bring Two at a Time to life.
Founder & Executive Director, Two at a Time