Chelsea had nowhere to go. She’d finally left an abusive relationship, but the only shelter with an open bed wouldn’t allow her dog unless he was vaccinated.
“I wasn’t going to leave him behind,” she recalls. “If we couldn’t stay together, I was going back.”
That’s where Ruthless Kindness stepped in. The California non-profit offers free mobile veterinary care to community members in crisis. Soon the organization’s co-founder, CEO and licensed veterinarian Sarah Reidenbach was at Chelsea’s door. “She gave me a hug and told me it was going to be okay,” Chelsea remembers. “Then she examined and vaccinated my dog, clearing the way for us to get into the shelter together.”
Chelsea’s experience isn’t an outlier. Most homeless shelters won’t allow pets, and those that do require documentation affirming that animals have up-to-date vaccinations and no other medical conditions. Though it sounds simple, this often poses a significant barrier for many escaping an abusive situation.
“We know half of all domestic violence victims won’t leave their abuser unless their pets can escape, too,” Reidenbach explains. “Many of our clients don’t have the money, time or transportation to go to a traditional vet clinic. We provide our services free of charge, using a mobile unit that can travel to them.”
In addition to vet care, Ruthless Kindness also offers free pet food and supplies, conducts animal-assisted empathy education programs for youth impacted by trauma and more.
“There are so many innocent people and animals who are going through unthinkable pain, and we have the power to do something about it,” Reidenbach insists. “We help the vulnerable — people who are without a home or are housing insecure, people trying to survive in extreme poverty, people who have been victimized and abused – and the animals they love.”