Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is giving a voice to the voiceless.
Wilson, who has always been exceptionally charitable, is partnering with the Banfield Foundation to raise awareness for the often unseen victims of domestic violence – pets.
In the United States, less than 10% of shelters for domestic abuse victims are animal-friendly, leaving many sufferers with the difficult choice between staying in a dangerous situation or seeking help, but leaving their beloved pet behind and at risk.
“It’s heartbreaking when you think about how nearly half of domestic violence victims stay in these situations and relationships because they’re worried and concerned about the safety of their pets,” Wilson told AOL.com.
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According to the Banfield Foundation, millions of victims remain in abusive situations every year out of fear for the safety of their pet. Up to 89% of pet-owning abuse victims stay with their abuser.
Pets come with different food and housing needs than humans do, and creating enough safe space for dogs and cats can cost shelters a significant amount. Other issues, including people with allergies and pets who may have been neglected or abused themselves, are also areas of concern.
But for many, leaving their animal behind simply isn’t an option.
“We just love them so much,” Wilson said of pets, particularly the three Great Danes and one Maltipoo that he shares with wife Ciara. “It makes a difference in our world and brings us so much peace and joy and love into our home. I know that it does that for a lot of people across America.”
Together, Wilson and the Banfield Foundation are raising awareness and funds to enable more domestic violence shelters around the country to take in animals as well as humans. Pet advocates looking to help people and animals find safety together can donate through the Banfield Foundation.
“We want to be able to help people and drive awareness but also help their pets and their families,” Wilson said of the foundation’s initiative. “When we feel that our pets are safe, we’re also safe.”