When hands hurt paws

I want to talk to you for a moment about a very important topic.

Through my day job at the Bangor Daily News’s Special Sections Department I have the privilege of meeting lots of interesting people and hearing lots of stories. Most of them are happy stories.

Some are not.

And some start out heartwrenching and turn inspiring. I had the honor of hearing one of those stories in May. And it turned into a major two-part series posted in the BDN’s weekly publication aptly named The Weekly.

It started when I spoke with Jenny Dwyer, co-owner of Mutt Nose Best. She has an amazing business creating eco- and pet-friendly grooming products for dogs that can also be used on people. Her business is amazing and you should check it out here.

Then she mentioned that her business was starting a non-profit organization to pay it forward. One initiative the “Through My Dog’s Eyes” foundation is tackling is raising money to help provide grants to domestic violence shelters to equip them to be pet-friendly. The foundation will be holding a 5K walk/run/woof on Sept. 28, 2013 called BARKK to End the Silence.

She shared her story with me and I know that she will go far. I’ll post the article as soon as it is published so you can read about her amazing story and the amazing work she’ll be doing.

But Jenny isn’t alone. Nationally, studies have shown that 48 percent of battered women delay leaving a dangerous situation due to fear for their pets’ safety.

This topic is an important one to discuss. Domestic violence is important to address. However, the link between violence against family animals and domestic violence is well researched. Animal abuse is one of five markers for violent behavior against humans. And in children it’s even more crucial to pay attention if a child is either abusing an animal or being abused.

So I set out on a mission to understand the issue more. I’m going to share the two stories I wrote for the Weekly with you. I’m also going to continue this look into the connection and link between domestic violence and violence against family pets and animals.

Here’s what you need to know though: It is never OK for anyone to hurt you, physically, emotionally or mentally. It is never OK for them to use your pet as a pawn and an outlet for expressing their feelings. It is never OK for an animal to be hurt or killed as vengeance or penance. And if you know someone experiencing this (or their pets or children are experiencing this) there are resources. I hope my columns can be a resource as well.

If you have a story you want to share, an anecdote or a resource I should talk with about this, please email me at [email protected] or comment on this blog.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.