In a sea of non-profit organizations each doing extraordinary things, it is rare to come across one that is so unique that its mission leaves you confounded by your own ignorance that you haven’t considered the need it fulfills. Ahimsa House is one such organization located in Atlanta, GA. Meaning “nonviolence” in Sanskrit, Ahimsa House is a one-of-a-kind non-profit that is dedicated to addressing the link between domestic violence and animal cruelty.
Domestic violence is undoubtedly still a topic primarily discussed in hushed tones, but Lauren Vickers, board member of Ahimsa House, reminds us “chances are that this topic does affect you” and “you are closer to domestic violence than you might think.” Statistics show that even if you are not a victim of domestic violence, someone in your social circle likely is. Staying in a domestic abuse situation is steeped in stigma, but it is crucial to acknowledge the complexity of such dynamics and the factors that contribute to a victim’s hesitancy to leave. One such obstacle is the deep connection between humans and their pets. Leaving your pet in the hands of someone you know is capable of harming them is unthinkable. This is the point at which Ahimsa House can offer help.
In 2004, Emily Christie founded Ahimsa House after losing her beloved pet to domestic violence. According to Ahimsa House, “Most U.S. households have pets, and pets are often considered part of the family. Recognizing the bonds between victims and their pets, many batterers threaten, harm, and even kill pets in the home in order to control, intimidate, and retaliate against their victims.”
Ahimsa House operates as a direct services program. These services, including a network of foster homes and boarding facilities for pets, are available anywhere in Georgia and are completely free of charge. Ahimsa House offers a 24-hour statewide crisis line, assistance in including pets in safety planning, emergency shelter for any kind of animal while their humans reach safety, and assistance in transporting pets to accompany their humans (both within GA and across the country).
However, Ahimsa House services do not end once victims reach a safe destination. They offer veterinary care for pets with injuries/other health conditions due to abuse, forensic veterinary examinations to document abuse (which assists in prosecuting abusers), and legal advocacy to assist victims in listing their pets on temporary protective orders. In an effort to help victims move forward with their lives, Ahimsa House also provides pet food, pet supplies, and payment of pet deposits in transitional housing. Without the wealth of support that Ahimsa House offers, victims can often slip back into a domestic abuse situation. Ahimsa House warns, “Victims who leave pets behind have been known to leave domestic violence shelters and return to the residence in order to attempt to reclaim or care for the pets.” The services that Ahimsa House provides eliminate this risk.
The breadth of services that Ahimsa House offers is astounding, and yet the organization only employs four staff members; the rest are volunteers. They rely heavily on individual donations, grants, and corporate sponsorship, as well as volunteer labor and many in-kind donations of goods and services. Devoted Human’s customers hail from all over the country, so you may be wondering how you could contribute to this worthwhile cause even if you live outside of Georgia.
When we spoke to Lauren Vickers about how you can help Ahimsa House, she stressed, “You can make a difference. You may think it’s overwhelming, but you can do something. Everyday actions matter.” For instance, those interested can link their AmazonSmile accounts to Ahimsa House. For those who aren’t clear on what AmazonSmile is, it is a way to donate 0.5% from eligible AmazonSmile purchases at no cost to you, by simply selecting Ahimsa House as your chosen charity. Ahimsa House also has a Wish List through Amazon. Their office needs everything from business envelopes to dog crates to kitty litter. If you happen to live in Georgia, you might also consider becoming a foster. Fostering for Ahimsa House is particularly attractive, because it is short-term commitment (90 days).
Ahimsa House will also be hosting its 13th annual gala, Joining Hands & Paws, this year at a historic hall in downtown Atlanta on March 4th. The gala is an opportunity to celebrate all that has been accomplished in the prior year and to educate donors on the growing number of abuse victims seeking Ahimsa House services. Past galas have attracted coveted food vendors and partners for silent auction. When chatting with Ms. Vickers, she mentioned an especially memorable mac and cheese bar. This year’s gala is sure to have similarly scrumptious offerings and the silent auction will include items such as custom pet portraits, fun getaways, etc. If you’re interested in learning more about this event and attending, click here.
As most devoted humans will recognize, the love and support that your pets offer you is unrivaled and we should try to do what we can to nurture and protect that bond for others. If you want to learn more about Ahimsa House (and there certainly is a lot more to learn), please visit their website.
We are proud to have made Ahimsa House our grassroots animal rescue non-profit for the month of January. Your purchases this month have assisted the people and pets in need who have turned to Ahimsa House for help.