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Protecting Domestic Violence Survivors and the Pets they love

A New Start in Life (NSIL) program partners with Family Services to provide safety and care to pets while survivors of interpersonal violence stay at their shelter. We provide loving foster homes or lodging, food and treats, medical care, toys, and all other needs. The survivors feel great relief knowing their pets are safe and loved. After they figure out their next steps and leave the shelter, they’re reunited with their pets.
If you know someone who may be experiencing domestic/interpersonal violence, they can call Family Services' crisis line 336.723.8125 or go to Bridges to Hope Family Justice Center at 725 North Highland Avenue, Annex 1, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.

We began this program after realizing that:

  • 71% of women in domestic violence shelters report their abuser threatened, injured or killed a pet as a means of control. (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)

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  • Nearly 50% of victims stay in abusive situations rather than leave their pet behind. (Carlisle-Frank, Frank and Nielsen, 2004)

  • As many as 25% of survivors will return because the abuser is using their pet as a means to get the person back. (ASPCA)

  • And, finally, domestic violence shelters very rarely accept pets.


“We are so grateful for our partnership with PAW Alliance. Individuals and families that come into the domestic violence shelter face unique and challenging situations. Because of PAW Alliance, we are able to offer our clients comfort, knowing their animals are safe and well taken care of. This allows them to flee unsafe situations to maintain their own safety, as well as the safety of the animals they love.”

- Family Services, Forsyth

We need help with this necessary, important program!  Please consider being a foster home for these pets.

Why Foster a NSIL pet?


This program works only because of people like you opening your hearts and homes, and giving their time and attention, to a pet in need. As a foster, you know you’re offering desperately needed support to both the animal and the violence survivor, helping both begin to feel safe. Your fostering is crucial to allow the survivor to recover and look to the future, knowing their beloved pet is in loving hands.

  • You are helping a domestic violence survivor in our community.

  • You are offering a pet a safe, comforting home while its parent is trying to recover from a seriously traumatic experience.

  • The pet very possibly has been abused, too, so you’re helping the pet learn that there are safe, loving places.

  • You’re reducing the pet’s stress and giving the survivor much-needed emotional relief. When survivors know that their animal is in a safe, loving place, they can breathe easier and put more energy into making plans for a new life.

  • NSIL fosters are short term, ranging from a few weeks to a few months.

  • PAW Alliance supplies everything a foster home needs, including food, treats, and toys, cages or crates if needed, medical care, and all other essentials.


In A Nutshell:

Fill out a foster application and get it to us. We’ll be in touch, and if all seems a good fit, you’ll be a PAW Alliance New Start in Life foster home!  A PAW Alliance rep will contact you to discuss your interest. If it seems a good fit, the rep will come visit your home and explain more about our program. Fosters are short-term, ranging from a few weeks to a few months.

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  • Fill out a foster adoption application and get it to us.

  • A PAW Alliance rep will contact you to discuss your interest, then will make a home visit and give you more details and answer any questions.

  • When the time comes—and often it’s last minute—we’ll call you and tell you what pet/s need your help.

  • PAW Alliance will bring the pet/s to you with all necessary equipment, food, treats, toys, beds, medicines, and so on.

  • We’ll ALWAYS be available if you have questions or concerns and will be with you every step of the way. We’ve learned that the survivor parents love getting info and photos, so we hope you’ll send some to us and we’ll pass them along.

  • When the survivor decides a path going forward and leaves the shelter, we’ll pick up the pet/s from you and bring them back to their parent.


“I have been a pet parent and fan of PAW Alliance for years. When I first read about A New Start in Life, I knew that I wanted to somehow get involved, and luckily the chance came for me to foster my first dog. I think that this program is so important and fills a need in our community to provide the love, care, and support for both humans and pets going through an extremely difficult time in their lives. It made my heart happy to provide a little peace of mind for my foster pup and his family.” M. S.

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