Project will allow domestic violence survivors to keep more pets with them at shelter

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Valerie Bundy, director of shelter services for Monika's House, holds onto her client's dog, Lucy, near her current kennel. Leadership Beaverton volunteers plan to build a patio onto the back of the building, complete with small animal kennels.Leadership Beaverton’s class of 2014 is on a mission to add space for small animals at Monika’s House, a domestic violence shelter in Hillsboro.

The group of business and civic leaders has raised $5,000 toward its $12,000 goal, with help from the Beaverton Police Department and others. The project is scheduled for completion this June.

A Washington County nonprofit supported by the Domestic Violence Resource Center, Monika’s House is one of five domestic violence shelters in Oregon that allows pets and the only one in Washington County.

Because of funding and legal considerations, many shelters are not able to accept pets, which can spread allergies, attack staff and are sometimes abandoned by their owners.

Today, Monika’s House has five large animal kennels, and Leadership Beaverton’s service project hopes to expand options to also include space for smaller family pets like cats and rabbits. Class volunteers plan to build a patio onto the back of the building, complete with small animal kennels that can be heated in the winter and cooled in the summer.

Katrina Rodriguez, a victim services coordinator at the Beaverton Police Department, said there is a correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence. Abusers target pets as a controlling tactic and threaten pets to ensure victims don’t report abuse or leave, she said.

“If you have a victim or a survivor who’s been isolated from friends and family, and they really strongly identify with this pet as their sense of support — someone that loves them and someone that they love who doesn’t hurt them — having the abuser use that pet can be very difficult for them,” Rodriguez said. “To be able to have this additional component of allowing people to bring their pets, their dogs, their cats, their small animals, is only going to help people ... leave a situation as a more whole person.”

Alisa Cour, a Leadership Beaverton member and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue spokeswoman, agreed.

“I think it’s really neat to be able to ... eliminate one more barrier that would prevent (survivors) from choosing to leave an indecent situation and pursue a better life,” Cour said.

Breaking barriers

Leadership Beaverton is a training class sponsored by the Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce open to residents, board members, government officials and business members interested in devoting their time to improve the community. Applications are accepted in July, and the class meets one day a month from September through May.

Each year, the team of 25 leaders select a project to complete before Leadership Beaverton’s graduation. Last year, the group hosted a relaunched Beaverton Police Activities League fundraiser dinner and auction, which brought in more than $14,000 for the youth organization.

In 2012, the group hosted a kickball tournament, raising $13,000 for HomePlate Youth Services in addition to installing a 1,500-book library at the Beaverton Salvation Veteran’s Home & Family Center on Southwest Farmington Road.

This year’s class has lined up an architect, Stewart Strauss, who is drawing up the plans, and a public relations agent to set up fundraisers. Program graduate Jerry Jones, vice president and general manager of Lanphere Construction, is providing labor, a truck, storage and cutting concrete for the project.

The group spent extra time outside of monthly classes researching feasible projects, choosing Monika’s House because of the need and impact it could make with a short-term project.

Valerie Bundy, director of shelter services at the Domestic Violence Resource Center, said the organization usually books Monika’s House clients for a month at a time. “As long as they are making an attempt, they get extended (to) about two months,” she noted. “From there it depends on if they have a move-in date, like in two weeks, so we’d rather have them move once than move and then move again.”

It’s rare for a client to have or gain a job while staying at Monika’s House, she noted, estimating she sees five working clients a year.

Leadership Beaverton participants hope their project will help ease the transition for survivors of domestic abuse by taking care of at least one of their concerns.

“There’s a connection there to offering people some compassion, some respect, some hope in very difficult circumstances,” Rodriguez said. “But also making sure that they have a voice in the process, that they’re being heard, that they’re receiving the rights that they deserve, that they have a meaningful role in the justice process.”

What’s Next

Monika’s House accepts monetary donations and household items. Call 503-469-4580 for a list of needed items.

The Leadership Beaverton class is fundraising through a raffle. Ticket packages can be purchased for $10 to $50 online at

The drawing will be held at The Growlerie in Progress Ridge on Tuesday, May 6, at 7 p.m. Prizes include Nike World Headquarters tours, Big Al’s parties and stays at the Marriott Sea-Tac Hotel.

Architect Stewart Strauss is scheduled to finish project plans by early May and apply for a permit. Building is scheduled to begin between May 17 and 30.