The Companions-in-Crisis Program (CIC) to provides shelter for individual animals caught up in family crises. Examples of such crises include domestic violence related evacuations, a phenomenon which is unfortunately increasing nationwide. The program provides safe, confidential, and most critically, secure temporary shelter for animals when a pet's owner enters an emergency shelter, residential treatment program, other medical facility or is otherwise temporarily unable to care for their animals.
In Connecticut, a partnership between CVMF and the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) has enabled CIC by serving as a bridge, informing victims how to arrange to safeguard their animals for an indeterminate period, while they evacuate to new, safe circumstances.
CCADV is the leading advocacy organization for the victims of domestic violence in Connecticut, and also the membership organization for the 18 agencies that serve domestic violence victims statewide. By collaborating closely with key community, government and business leaders, CCADV works to ensure a systematic and comprehensive approach to victim services and offender accountability. CCADV and CVMF share a memorandum-of-understanding which outlines CIC program expectations and its basic operating guidelines.
The Companions-in-Crisis program has been described as a "witness protection program" for the animals of domestic violence victims. Domestic violence agency caseworkers, upon request of a victim, may contact CIC on the victim's behalf through a dedicated 24-hour telephone line, and begin the placement process. Animals are then secretly relocated to one of more than 60 participating veterinary hospitals across the state for safekeeping.
The program takes great care to ensure that animals are moved and housed in a way which ensures victim and animal care staff safety. Confidentiality and safety are the paramount concerns. After relocation, all reports on the status of animals in the program are made through the program director and caseworker only. For obvious reasons, there can be no animal visitation during the emergency shelter period.
Animal hospital owners are responsible for the basic costs of boarding and feeding animals and the CVMF provides funding for any necessary veterinary medical care on a case-by-case basis. CVMF donor funds may be used for this purpose.
Each request for shelter presents a unique set of circumstances and CIC accepts applications on a case-by-case basis. Eligibility requirements include enrollment or active participation in programs or services provided by a participating social service agency, and compliance with all court orders and/or treatment plans in effect at the time CIC services are rendered. Referring agencies can include: victim advocates and judicial personnel, law enforcement, animal control officers, youth & family service organizations, children's & elderly protective service agencies, and domestic violence or sexual assault crisis service providers.
Requests for services by individuals without a referring agent cannot be accepted. To seek the services of a local domestic violence agency, contact 888-774-2900. If the situation is an emergency, call 911. You may also learn more online about available domestic violence services at www.ctcadv.org.