The State of Housing Pets of Intimate Partner Violence

8:00AM - 9:15 AM
Location: Chelsea Hotel, Churchill Ballroom

Dr. Amy Fitzgerald, PhD. Associate Professor, Criminology, University of Windsor
Nicole Forsyth, President and CEO, Red Rover

Thanks to a growing body of research showing the frequent co-occurrence of animal abuse, intimate partner violence (IPV), and victims' reluctance to leave their abusers due to concern for their pets (Ascione et al., 2007; Barrett, Fitzgerald, Peirone, & Cheung, 2018), domestic violence shelters are increasingly offering pet programs. These programs can consist of on-site sheltering, off-site sheltering (e.g., at a humane society), and foster-care programs in private homes.

In the first of its kind, innovative international community-university partnership focused on creating and disseminating knowledge, the Animal and Interpersonal Abuse Research Group (AIPARG) at the University of Windsor and the nonprofit organization RedRover, a registered non-profit in the United States that helps animals and people in crisis, teamed up to conduct an ambitious research project to determine the current extent of awareness about the link between animal abuse and domestic violence and the kinds of pet programs now offered through domestic violence shelters in Canada and the United States. A 21-question phone survey was created to assess whether the domestic violence agency asks about pets at intake, the frequency and types of requests received for pet assistance, the types of programs provided (if any), barriers and limitations to pet programs, partnerships they have and how awareness of the pet program is shared.

RedRover works with agencies that serve domestic violence survivors and their pets to help them develop pet programs and maintains an online searchable database of programs for the pet victims of domestic violence at The data from this research will be uploaded onto this website by October 2019, and RedRover and AIPARG will share the results of the data to increase awareness of the available resources and better determine and share with others where assistance and financial resources are most-needed.


  1. Understand what solutions and models for sheltering the pets of domestic violence survivors are offered.
  2. Understand the key barriers and limitations domestic violence shelters experience when attempting to shelter pets on- or off-site and how these may be addressed.
  3. Learn where the most need exists for pet programs to house the victims of intimate partner violence.


Amy Fitzgerald, PhD is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology, and is cross-appointed to the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, at the University of Windsor. She is also a founding member of the University of Windsor’s Animal and Interpersonal Abuse Research Group (AIPARG). Her research focuses on the intersection of harms (criminal and otherwise) perpetrated against people, non-human animals, and the environment. She has published extensively in the fields of critical animal studies, green criminology, environmental sociology, and gender studies. Her most recent books include Animal Advocacy and Environmentalism: Understanding and Bridging the Divide (2018; Polity Press) and Animals as Food: (Re)connecting Production, Processing, Consumption, and Impacts (2015; Michigan State University Press). Fitzgerald is the recipient of the Distinguished Scholarship Award from the Animals and Society section of the American Sociological Association and the Mid-Career Outstanding Faculty Research Award from the University of Windsor. Her collaborative work on animal abuse is currently being funded through three Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grants.

Nicole Forsyth has been President and CEO of RedRover since 2006, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Sacramento, CA that brings animals from crisis to care and strengthens the bond between people and pets throughout the United States and parts of Canada. To better reflect its work and expanding programs, she led the organization through a major rebranding effort in 2011, which successfully laid the groundwork for current growth initiatives. RedRover now has a staff of 22 and a budget of $4 million, its largest to date. Nicole’s combined experience in nonprofit management, scientific research, education and hands-on animal care has helped develop the strategic focus of the organization which seeks positive, innovative solutions to ameliorate suffering, prevent animal abuse and create a more compassionate society for all. Committed to applying research and data to her work, she holds a master of science degree in animal biology/welfare from the University of California, Davis. She also holds a master’s degree in Communication from the University of Maine and a bachelor’s degree in English and Education from the University of Colorado. Nicole previously worked in fund development for the Placer SPCA in Roseville, California and was the development director for a habitat conservation organization in Montana. She has also worked as a classroom teacher of middle-school and at-risk high-school students.