Roanoke County animal hospital offering free pet boarding to domestic violence victims

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ROANOKE CO., Va. (WDBJ7) Victims of domestic violence typically have to act fast to escape their abuser, and tough choices must be made. Now, an animal hospital in Roanoke County is making that process a bit less difficult.

Shayne Dwyer/WDBJ7

North Roanoke Veterinary Hospital advertises its boarding services right on the building. But it's its new offering that really goes above and beyond.

Pets bring a lot of joy to many and oftentimes the link pet and owner shares is stronger than glue. Few know that better than veterinarian Dr. Sharon Coleman.

"We're hoping that we can improve the bond between pet owners and their animals," Coleman, North Roanoke Veterinary Hospital owner, said.

Coleman wants to improve it by offering short-notice, free of charge pet boarding to domestic violence victims. After nearly three decades in practice, this is the answer to a personal call.

"I certainly can't house the people there in danger but I have the space to house dogs and cats," Coleman said.

"Somewhere between 50 and 75 percent of our clients have pets in the home and they want to do something about that," TAP Housing And Human Services Director Stacey Sheppard said.

Roanoke-based TAP helps domestic violence victims. It says people leaving pets is a barrier to escaping abuse.

"For some people that have limited resources and limited things, that for them might be the one thing that is truly important to them," Sheppard said.

Boarding like this isn't new, it's just usually not advertised. TAP will officially add it to its list of resources, bucking that trend.

"I have adequate boarding for my routine clients and I feel like I have the space for a spontaneous situation if it arises," Coleman said.

"For Dr. Coleman and her clinic to really step up and take kind of the lead and say this is what I want to do to help out it's huge," Sheppard said.

The animal hospital says it already has the licensing and paperwork needed to do this through its current operation. And when pets come, they'll get a full check-up. Depending on what vaccines or care they need, services will be done at little to no cost.