County amends lease to allow pets at Advocates shelter

By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press staff

Victims of domestic or sexual violence seeking shelter with Ozaukee Advocates will be able to bring pets with them, the county Public Works Committee determined last week.

In a unanimous vote, committee members directed county Public Works Director Jon Edgren to amend the shelter’s lease with the county to permit residents to bring service animals and other pets without prior county approval, as the current lease states. 

The new lease leaves the decision to allow a client to bring a pet to Advocates Executive Director Barb Fischer.

The change is necessary to bring the shelter in line with the American Disabilities Act, which specifies service animals must be allowed, Fischer told committee members.

Plus, it’s increasingly become an issue for some clients, mostly women, some of whom refuse to leave a dangerous situation if they can’t bring their pet with them, Fischer said.

“There have been instances where someone won’t leave an abusive situation because they can’t bring their pet with them because they fear the pet will be injured or killed,” Fischer said. “We had a recent incident where a woman caught her husband trying to poison her dog.”

Fischer said the shelter houses 75 to 80 people per year. She estimated about a third of them would like to bring their pet or get it out of the house.

“The most important factor is getting people out of that kind of situation,” committee Chairman Don Korinek said.

Fischer said shelter officials have checked with other counties about their policies.

“It’s quite common” to allow pets in such shelters, she said.

Fischer said the shelter will create separate spaces for people allergic to pets or ways where pets can be separated if antagonized by another animal. They also are prepared to put clients up in a hotel or house animals at the Wisconsin Humane Society in Saukville.

She also said allowing animals will create opportunities for additional grant funds to make appropriate improvements at the shelter, including adding kennels and dog runs.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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