Ahimsa House: A Safe Haven for Domestic Abuse Victims and Their Pets

What is Ahimsa House?

Ahimsa House Lady with Dog

Ahimsa House, Sanskrit for “no violence.” is one Georgia’s first and only safe havens for domestic abuse victims and their pets. The organization began in 2004 after survivor, Emily Christie, lost a pet to domestic violence and animal cruelty. They started out as one shelter and then eventually grew to service all of Georgia, with most of their services being in the metro Atlanta area. They work hard with veterinarians and boarding homes all around the state to ensure that victims’ animals have a safe place to stay or be helped while they are transforming their lives and finding new apartments or living arrangements.

Ahimsa House currently has six full time staff members, at their Tucker, Georgia office, but they get tons of help from veterinarians and volunteers all around Georgia. Their volunteers are very important to the success of their organization. In this past year alone they have been able to save about 280 animals all over the state of Georgia. Since 2004, they have helped give over 75,800 nights of safety and shelter to pets, until their owners were ready to take them in and care for them again.

Cute Tan Rescue Dog at Ahimsa House

Ahimsa House works to keep pets in boarding homes or at vet’s for about two months. During this time the animals vet care, necessary surgeries, vaccines, and more are all taken care of for the owners. A lot of the animals that come in have behavioral issues, so training is also made readily available to the pets who need it. Ahimsa House also helps transport animals to their owners, once they get resettled, and they will even help transport animals out of state, if necessary.

Ahimsa House does a lot for the survivors of domestic abuse. When survivors find a new place to stay, they will sometimes offer to help pay the pet deposit for their apartment. They will also give basic pet supplies to survivors as a source of help as well. They have a very strong belief in keeping victims safe once they’ve gotten out of a violent situation. When Samantha, Ahimsa House’s Community services advocate, was showing pictures of survivors and their pets, there were several that she couldn’t show me due to the need to protect the safety of those victims. It’s really amazing the lengths that they go through to help the abused animals of people who have survived domestic violence situations.

Facts About Domestic Abuse

People who harm animals are more likely to harm humans, and oftentimes pets are used as a tool of abuse towards the victims. Something really amazing that Ahimsa House does is assist with the prosecutions of abusers, because animal cruelty charges are usually easier to give out than domestic abuse charges. With their help, they can put abusers away in jail for a long time and in turn help protect the animals and their owners. Another great thing that Ahimsa House assists with is getting your pet protected as “property” under a restraining order. Many people often forget about, or are unaware that they can help their pets during times like these. This is why many animals aren’t reunited with their owners in these types of situations. Along with securing the safety of their pet, a restraining order also gives the owners a police escort to safely collect their things and their pet(s) from their homes.

On average, it takes about seven times until a victim finally leaves their abuser. There have been instances in which the people that Ahimsa House have helped, unfortunately decide to go back to their abusers. Oftentimes when this occurs, they usually don’t take their pets with them, and Ahimsa House takes them in through  either boarding homes, fostering, or placing them in the care of a vet, where they will be loved and nurtured. Other instances where Ahimsa House takes in animals is if the apartment that the survivor is staying in doesn’t allow pets, they gladly take them in for them and ensure that they receive attention and care from a loving person. Samantha herself has taken in and fostered 12 dogs and 1 kitten in the (almost) 3 years that she has been working with Ahimsa House.

Success Story

Domestic Abuse Survivor with two cute pittbull dogs
Survivor and her dogs.

A heartwarming story that Samantha shared was about a woman who had two Pitbulls. Her abuser let the dogs loose one day, hoping that they would run away and never come back, but unfortunately one of them wandered into the road and was struck by a car instead. The injured dog just lay there motionless, while the other dog sat beside it waiting for help. The dog, that was struck by the car, was luckily able to make a full recovery, and the abuser thankfully went to jail. This allowed the owner to get her and her dogs to safety. During her time getting help from Ahimsa House, the organization was so thoughtful and helpful that they offered to drive her to and from the vet every day until her dog had made a full recovery. The amount of compassion that Ahimsa House has for victims and their pets is unmatched.

More Than Just Dogs

Orange and yellow bird in a cage

Ahimsa House mainly deals with dogs, but they have also helped survivors with cats, chickens, guinea pigs, snakes, rats, horses, and even a zebra. They are willing to help any type of survivor with any type of animal, which broadens the amount of people that they help.

Along with the Rescue Dog Olympics, to raise awareness and funds for domestic violence and animal abuse, Ahimsa House also hosts a gala every March, and a 5K race every August. The organization is a nonprofit dedicated to helping any animal in need. To find out more information visit their website. They will also be having a tent at the Rescue Dog Olympics on Sunday, March 10, 2019 in Piedmont Park.

Tan and White guinea pig

Written by: Kyra Brue, a Senior at Kennesaw State University, studying English. For more information or to contact Kyra, please visit her blog and portfolio.

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