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Providence non-profits helps domestic violence victims keep pets

The future looked anything but bright when Jordan Ross graduated Cornell University and returned home to Boston in 2005.

“My parents were pretty abusive and violent, and I had this black lab Jazz that I loved,” explains Ross. “I left my parents’ home and I struggled for a year to hang onto my dog.”

Most domestic violence shelters didn't accept pets, and as a recent college graduate, Ross he couldn't afford his own apartment.

“Thankfully I found, through a social worker, the Stapleton House, which is a men's group home,” said Ross. “So men, transitioning out of the Pine Street Inn in Boston took care of my black lab for months, and then I reunited with him.”

Ross eventually launched a successful career with Jazz by his side.

But more than a decade later, the experience still stuck with him. He knew more people were struggling.

Ross said it’s estimated that up to 65 percent of domestic violence victims stay in an abusive situation because they're worried about what will happen to their pet if they leave.

In 2015, he created PetsEmpower to ease that fear.

“We're established now as a non-profit foundation in Rhode Island, and our whole mission is helping the existing infrastructure grow,” said Ross.

“One of the things that's really fantastic about Jordan that we're always looking for when we try to identify social entrepreneurs that we really want to work with is very collaborative, very committed,” said Kelly Ramirez, CEO of the Social Enterprise Greenhouse.

PetsEmpower operates out of the Social Enterprise Greenhouse in Providence.

The organization matches domestic violence victims with foster homes and support groups throughout Southern New England. They also provide funding for food, vaccinations and vet care.

Ross said they've already found temporary homes for 10 pets. They’re hoping to reach 20 within the next few months.

PetsEmpower spends about $500 per pet for food and vet care before reuniting them with their owners.

“Oh, they're so happy,” said Ross. “That's the biggest gift of this program, to see that experience.”

He added, “A lot of times, especially in my case, these are the most important relationships to people -- they're dependable, loving, and really going forward, can help them heal.”

To get involved with PetsEmpower head to petsempower.org, or email jordan@petsempower.org.

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