Spring 2014

Photo credit: Traer Scott


Sheltering Animals of Abuse Victims

National Animal Cruelty Awareness Month 
April is National Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month. This year we have a lot to celebrate! In March, South Dakota became the 50th state in our nation to pass legislation making malicious acts of animal cruelty a felony. To give a sense of how quickly animal protection laws are advancing, by comparison, just fifteen years ago only 31 states had a felony level animal cruelty law. As another example, in 2006, only one state, Maine, had a law that included animals in protective orders in domestic abuse cases. Today, 25 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have such a law. These legislative achievements confirm that the public supports animal protection laws and they want resources devoted to investigating and prosecuting offenders. Other great things are happening, too! Earlier this year, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office created an anti-animal cruelty task force with a focus on the overlap between animal abuse, child abuse, domestic abuse and elder abuse. There is, of course, still a TON of work to do.  The task force in Santa Barbara County is an anomaly rather than the norm. In many states, felony level animal cruelty laws still apply only to companion animals, or only to extremely egregious cases. But, this month, let's take a moment to celebrate progress... and then commit to keep going!
Eight Ways to Support a Domestic Violence Victim
If you suspect a friend is in a controlling or abusive relationship, it's difficult to help. On average it takes seven attempts for a victim to leave a relationship. That can be frustrating for those who want their loved one to get out sooner. Don't give up! Here are some things to do:
  1. Listen to the victim.
  2. Give the victim three key assurances: "You don't deserve this;" "This is not your fault;" and "I believe you."
  3. Tell the victim you think he or she might be in danger.
  4. Give the victim phone numbers of domestic violence resources, such as DAIS (Domestic Abuse Intervention Services) (608) 251-4445, www.abuseintervention.org, or Family Services Madison (608) 252-1320, www.fsmad.org
  5. Call and ask what you can do to help your friend.
  6. Don't tell the victim what to do. Abusers often prevent victims from making decisions. Telling the victim what to do could sound controlling, like the abuser.
  7. Ask the victim where he or she would go if he or she decided to leave. Help her or him think about making a plan.
  8. If abuse is actively occurring, immediately call: 9-1-1.

Source:  Portland Police Bureau, Domestic Violence Reduction Unit

Board Spotlight - Meg Sohns

Meg is the Crisis Intervention Services Manager at

Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS). In her role at DAIS, Meg provides oversight, supervision and coordination of the Crisis Response, Support Group and Help Line Programs. She supervises 45-50 individuals within all three programs. She also oversees the SAAV Program for DAIS, providing direct services to SAAV's clients. She has worked at DAIS since the Spring of 2008. Meg graduated from Winona State University in 2007 with a Health Promotion - Community Health Degree and a Women and Gender Studies Minor.  Meg's focus on SAAV's board is client services for the domestic abuse victims we serve.


You are such a busy lady! What do you do for fun? 

MS: In the work that I do, self-care is extremely important. I am fortunate to have many different outlets. My number one outlet is my two little girls, Clara and Bailey. They bring a lot of joy and keep me very busy! I also enjoy spending as much time as I can with my husband Ben, my family and friends. Let's not forget our dog, Mack, and our cat, Chester. I also enjoy spending time outside, running, being involved in the youth program at our Church, baking, reading and watching my guilty pleasures on TV.


If you could live anywhere in the word where would you live? 

MS: Oh my gosh, this is a tough question. There are so many places I would want to live and for so many different reasons! I would want to live in Europe for a while, specifically Germany, because I love history and would want to explore everything I could. I would also want to live in Africa or South America and do humanitarian work for a few years. And...if I can pick one more, I would say I would also want to live in Australia and just live the good life and relax while exploring that part of the World!


What would your dream job be? 

MS: I'm doing it! My degree is in community health and I believe that domestic violence in a huge community health issue for women and men. I have a strong passion for providing direct services to victims and survivors of domestic violence and empowering them to feel safe and less isolated. I also enjoy the management and supervision pieces of my role because I am fortunate to work with an amazing team and I meet a lot of really unique people that have the same passion that I do. I am lucky that I get to be so heavily involved in the SAAV program at DAIS because I believe that pets and children are often silent victims in a domestic violence situation and I am thankful that I can assist our callers and clients at DAIS with getting connected to this program to protect their pet which results in increased safety for our clients.

SAAV Events Coming Up 
SAAV Foster Orientation Session
Tuesday May 13, 2014
5:30-7:30 p.m.
Are you or someone you know interested in becoming a member of our network of foster homes? Please join us to learn about domestic abuse, the link to animal cruelty and how we serve victims and their animals through The SAAV Program. To RSVP for the event, email us at info@saavprogram.org.
Other Great Local Events

Mounds Dog Fest

June 8, 2014

10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Mark your calendar for the annual Mounds Dog Fest 2014! There will be tons of paws- on activities, rescue groups, dog friendly businesses, pet food vendors, demos, contests and more! As in years' past SAAV will have an informational booth at the event. Stop on by and see us! The event will be held at the beautiful Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie. Admission and parking is FREE! Take a complimentary shuttle ride from Sun Prairie High School from 10am-3pm. Contact marketing@moundspet.com with any questions.


7th Annual Celebrate Independence! Luncheon

 June 24, 2014

11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

 Join DAIS at the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor's Club for their seventh annual Celebrate Independance luncheon featuring Dr. Jill MurrayDr. Jill Murray is the leading expert on the subject of teen dating violence.  Abusive dating relationships are at an epidemic rate with far-reaching implications for further 
violence both in personal relationships and in society at large. She has appeared on more than 350 television shows- including Oprah, 20/20, and Good Morning America. Register online through DAIS at: http://abuseintervention.org/celebrate-independence/ 
Superstar Volunteers 
SAAV animals win the lottery when they are matched with Bebe Bryans as their foster mom. She welcomes our foster animals into her home with immense love and they instantly become part of her family, along with her sweet and patient dog, Mattie and her newest family member, Dewey. Bebe has also been a fabulous ambassador for the SAAV Program, spreading the word about the link between domestic abuse and animal cruelty to those she meets and in interviews with the media about SAAV. She recently spoke with both the Isthmus and Channel 27 about why she volunteers with SAAV. Bebe shares her time with us with such grace that it is almost possible to forget the demanding real job that Bebe holds. She is Head Coach of the University of Wisconsin Women's Rowing Team! Join us in giving a special thank you to Bebe for all that she does for animals affected by domestic abuse!
Spring has Sprung! So has the Wildlife
Here in Dane County, we are extremely fortunate to have the Four Lakes Wildlife Center ("FLWC") through the Dane County Humane Society. FLWC's mission is dedicated to providing responsible care for the ill, injured, and orphaned wildlife. Should you find an ill or injured bird, bunny, or other wildlife, specific instruction can be found at www.giveshelter.org. It's best to cover the animal for protection with a laundry basket or box and then call FLWC (608) 838-0413. They can best instruct you on when an animal needs our help, and when it's best to avoid involvement. FLDC has assisted over 3000 patients since the program first started in 2002. One way the public can assist, is to provide a quiet home to care for injured wildlife while they heal and grow. Check out www.giveshelter.org for specific information, and numerous opportunities to get involved.


-Source, Dane Co. Humane Society

 Sheltering Animals of Abuse Victims (SAAV) is dedicated to ending the cycle of abuse within families. SAAV plays a unique role in this fight by recognizing the importance of animals as vital family members and arranging for their safe harbor at the time of critical need- when a domestic abuse victim seeks refuge from an abuser. We provide temporary, confidential shelter (the SAAV Program) for a period of up to ninety days for the animals of domestic abuse victims in Dane County who are seeking safety for themselves and their family. The SAAV Program is provided by SAAV through a generous collaboration between SAAV, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services and the Dane County Humane Society. SAAV also raises community awareness in Dane County and nationally about the link between domestic violence, animal abuse and how individuals can come together to stop the cycle of abuse. SAAV is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Issue: 3
Contact information:
PO Box 5152
Madison, WI 53705
In This Issue
National Animal Cruelty Awareness Month
Eight Tips to Support a Domestic Violence Victim
Board Spotlight
Superstar Volunteers
Spring Wildlife
SAAV Mission

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Helping victims of domestic abuse, by helping their animals.