A new pilot program in Springfield, Massachusetts, will give the companion animals of domestic violence survivors a safe place to go while their people also seek safety.

Studies have shown that between half and three-quarters of female domestic violence survivors polled reported their partners had threatened to harm — or even kill — their companion animals.  But the number of shelters nationwide that can accommodate people and their pets is limited.

Given the threats and the possibility that they’d have to leave their companion animals behind, up to 48 percent of women chose to stay in the abusive situation, according to one study.

Second Chance Animal Services has launched “Project Keep Me” so that survivors don’t have to choose between their safety and the safety of their companion animals, who they noted provide great comfort to survivors.

“The unfortunate reality in our area is that emergency housing resources for survivors of domestic violence often cannot accommodate their companion animal,” the nonprofit said on its website. “As a result, many victims find themselves trapped in dangerous living situations, afraid to leave their pets behind.”

The program will provide food, shelter, and any needed medical care to companion animals for up to 90 days while the human survivors seek safe, permanent housing. 

Second Chance’s CEO Sheryl Blancato told news that the program can’t currently accept animals with histories of aggression and has limited space but added Project Keep Me has helped several families already.

“We are committed to removing the barriers that prevent individuals from seeking safety and support and firmly believe that everyone deserves a second chance, both survivors and their animal companions,” Blancato said.

For those not in the Massachusetts’ area, the Safe Havens Mapping Project currently has more than 1,200 listings — in all 50 states and in DC — of reputable places that can provide safety for pets during transitions due to domestic violence. 

About 150 of the sites can accommodate both survivors and their companion animals, while other listings direct survivors to temporary foster services, including with humane societies and vet offices.

You can learn more about Project Keep Me here, and you can explore the Safe Havens Mapping Project here. If you, or someone you know, is suffering from domestic violence, you can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.