GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – “When Covid happened, I didn’t think that we were going to be able to continue on,” Hidden Paws Network founder Josh Jablonski said, reflecting back on the past year, “just because we lost all of our fundraising abilities through events and things.”
“We serve all victims of domestic violence, either in our emergency shelter, through outreach services, legal services, anything that they may need,” Michaela Polewski, Prevention Coordinator at Golden House explained.
One thing they may need that Golden House can’t accommodate is pet care.
Hidden Paws provides a foster network to keep pets safe while their owners get help.
“Prior to working with Hidden Paws, we had people that would not be interested in coming in the shelter, because they couldn’t guarantee the safety of, really their furry family members,” Polewski said.
Now, Golden House gives Jablonski and the Hidden Paws team a call if they have a victim with a pet that needs to enter the foster network.
“So if we get an emergency phone call, somebody’s looking for safety, somebody’s looking for that support, we can really call them at any time and make accommodations to help our victims out.” Polewski explained.
Jablonski noticed he was getting more and more of those calls during the pandemic.
“We saw a really large increase in the amount of domestic violence referrals that we received from Golden House and Harbor House,” he said, “and we’ve also stepped up our pantry as well because we’ve gotten more and more people in for the pantry.”
Hidden Paws also operates a pet food pantry, which they’re expanding due to an increased demand.
They also say they’re working on an emotional support animal program with Golden House, and continuing to grow that relationship.
“We’re also going to be starting a ambassador program, getting the board of Hidden Paws Network into Golden House to do some of their training and procedures so we can better understand and help in situations,” Jablsonski explained.
Hidden Paws Network is one of only two organizations statewide that works with authorities and shelters to keep the pets of victims of domestic violence safe.
That’s why Jablonski said it’s important that the organization continues to grow.
“69 percent of people with pets involved in domestic violence refuse to leave the situation for fear their animal might be harmed in the process,” he said.