Pet Shelter

Abbie’s Safe Home is the largest emergency shelter in Tennessee for the pets of domestic abuse victims fleeing violence homes. Located on the campus of YWCA’s Weaver Domestic Violence Center, Abbie’s is a state-of-the-art shelter with space for eight dogs and six cats. The pet shelter also offers an isolation room for injured pets, two outside play yards and a safe outdoor space for cats. In addition, the YWCA’s new pet shelter provides therapy for pets who have been abused themselves and veterinary services. Abbie’s Safe Home removes one of the greatest barriers for victims fleeing abuse and allows people and their pets to stay together and heal together.

Abbie’s Safe Home opened on Tuesday, August 24 2021. This critical community resource wouldn’t be possible without the support of YWCA Board Member Gail Alexander, Amazon, RedRover, and Be Like Henry Foundation. Click here to read the news release about our new Pet Shelter.

Domestic violence impacts the entire family…

Regardless of their own crisis, some individuals and families refuse safe shelter if they cannot bring a beloved pet.  YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee is committed to every possible action to bring more people out of abusive situations and into a place where they can begin healing and planning a bright future.  Our new pet shelter  – Abbie’s Safe Home – will remove a barrier to safety and allow pets and people to escape abuse together.

  • Pets are not immune to domestic violence, as abusers frequently threaten, injure, maim or kill their partners’ pets as a form of control.
  • 71 percent of pet owners entering domestic violence shelters reported their abusers had threatened, injured, or killed their family pets.
  • Studies show that nearly half of women in domestic violence situations delayed leaving for fear their pets would be harmed.
  • Women in domestic violence shelters are 11 times more likely to report animal abuse by their partner than women not experiencing violence.

To learn more or discuss opportunities, please contact YWCA’s Pet Shelter Manager Katy Sharp via email.

  • 85 percent of domestic violence shelters report that they commonly encounter women who speak about pet abuse incidents.
  • 52 percent of victims in shelters left their pets with their abusers.
  • 55 percent of victims and their children report that their pets are very important sources of emotional support.
  • Women without children are more likely to postpone seeking shelter out of concern for their pets’ safety as compared to women with children.

To discuss financial contributions to help us operate the Pet Shelter, please contact our Chief Development Officer Jennifer Zehnder via email.

Donate Items from Our Amazon Wishlist!

Ways to Give to Abbie's Safe Home

Purchasing items from our Amazon & Chewy wish lists!

When you purchase items from our Amazon Wish List and our Chewy Wish List are shipped directly to our office.  These wish lists contain items we need on a consistent basis.   Women fleeing life-threatening situations are unlikely to have access to standard items that are needed for pet care such as leashes, collars, beds, and carriers.  Pets experience trauma just like other members of the family in DV situations, but they can’t speak to us like people do and can express flight or fight responses as well as timid or shut down behavior.  Because of this, we need to take extra steps regarding the types of items we use when working with pets to ensure that they are able to be handled in a way that keeps them safe from potential harm.

Treats and toys (also identified on our wish lists) will be used in the enrichment program at the Pet Shelter.  Enrichment is to dogs and cats what therapy and exercise are to people.  Toys and treats will be used as part of that program to facilitate activities that build confidence, encourage species appropriate behaviors, combat boredom, and reduce stress. Our staff, pet owners, and volunteers will use these items daily to provide enrichment to the animals at the Pet Shelter.

If your employer offers matching gifts, please email us and we’ll initiate the process!

Domestic violence survivors and their pets need a safe place to heal. Help us to help them.