MENOMONIE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – October is domestic violence awareness month and Menomonie non-profit, Bridge to hope is taking a furry approach to spread the word. The non-profit is dedicated to not only helping domestic violence victims, but also those affected by sexual assault and human trafficking.
On Sunday, the organization hosted its 2nd annual Paws for Peace pet walk on the Red Cedar Trail.
The Bridge to Hope legal advocate, Coltra Hiestand, says the walk incorporates pets because they can be affected by domestic violence too.
“When it comes to violence, sometimes people forget about the cats, dogs, and other pets that are in the midst and don’t have a voice,” Hienstand said. “That’s one of out priorates because a lot of people won’t leave an abusive relationship because they have their pet, they have their cat, and they want to be able to bring them with.”
People brought out their dogs and even a cat took to the trail to walk for peace.
The Dunn County Sheriffs Office emotional support dog, Rookie, made an appearance as well.
“He’s purely there to sit with somebody, calm somebody down because a lot, you know, someone may not have good social supports in their human family but then their dog is their best friend and the living being that gets them through their day,” Hiestand said.
Jenn McDermid is the director of domestic abuse victims services at The Bridge to Hope. She says a few lucky winners went home with a prize for their furry family member.
“We have three raffles that were both donated from pets plus and tripod pet care,” McDermid said. “Then our own sexual assault advocate put a raffle basket together.”
Hiestand says it’s important to continue to spread awareness of domestic violence.
“It is one in four,” Hiestand said. “Everybody knows somebody. Somebody has a sister or a cousin, brother, uncle, somebody who has been involved in domestic violence.”
McDermid says not everyone experiences violence in their life, but its important to spread awareness of what’s happening in your own backyard.
“We’ve lost 68 lives to domestic violence in Wisconsin this year so just to make it real and raise that awareness. The more people know, the more empowered they are.”
The Bridge to Hope will have a display honoring domestic violence victims up at their location. A virtual vigil will also be held on October 28th at 5 p.m. for the 68 Wisconsin lives lost to domestic violence.
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