Kayleigh Blanchette who has worked with animal rescues for several years, including the Pawsitive Haven Animal Rescue in Carstairs, noticed that there was an alarming trend. Many animals who were being surrendered were coming from domestically abusive households.

"It became apparent that so many victims, usually women have to surrender their dogs because of domestic violence, and that's the only safe way to get them out. It's heartbreaking to see and I want to be able to help them and give them [the animal] a safe house for a minimum [which is usually] three months to get back on their feet," Blanchette said.

Hence a little over two weeks ago, she started KCS Animal Rescue Society. According to Blanchette, approximately 75 per cent of domestic violence victims won't leave their abusive environments due to their pets or because they're afraid for their pets. 

"I can't imagine having to go through that [kind of] situation and not wanting to put your physical self in danger to keep your pet safe and that's just not okay," Blanchette said.

Presently, the organization does not have a physical rescue center, but they are working with various individuals and families to facilitate fostering the dogs that are surrendered. She is planning to have an operational space for the organization within the year. Blanchette said that in the very brief time that the rescue has been operating, she has received at least 10 calls from individuals who are seeking help.

"We are low on fosters. So we're looking to build more of a base. We didn't think that on day one we'd start getting calls. I knew there was a need. I just didn't know how much; it took me by surprise," she said. "It's sad, but [I think] it's also good that there's something there for these people. But we do need some help."

Blanchette said if an individual calls the organization and is seeking help, either she or an approved volunteer will meet the individual somewhere safe, which can also include a police station. They will take the animal and place it in an approved foster home. All foster home information is kept confidential for the safety of both the individuals and the animals. She noted that foster homes are vetted and if one is interested, there is a form that one can fill out to apply for fostering. She noted that she is not picky when it comes to geographical areas, saying that foster families from far and wide can apply. She added that she is even willing to go to Edmonton to find a family to safely home the animals.

"If an animal is holding you back in a domestic violence situation, we want to take that stress off your hands. We want to help you get back on your feet, and not have to worry about your pet being safe. If we can be that reason to leave, we will be," she Blanchette concluded.

 For those who are unable to foster, but still want to support the KCS Animal Rescue Society, PayPal donations and e-transfers are also welcome.  

According to the Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter, 74 per cent of Albertans report that they personally know at least one woman who has been sexually or physically assaulted.

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