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Spot Abuse Campaign Launches

Milwaukee Change-Makers Partner to Launch Historic Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse Prevention Campaign

“Spot Abuse” pilot program creates awareness that one call can stop two forms of abuse

Milwaukee, Wisc. – Apr. 30, 2014 – In a collaborative effort to combat domestic violence in the community, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, Milwaukee Police Department, Wisconsin Humane Society, Sojourner Family Peace Center, Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC) and Serve Marketing have partnered to launch the “Spot Abuse” project on May 1, 2014. A pilot launch in Milwaukee could be followed by nationwide local extensions of the campaign.

The effort is based on research from the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys that found 76 percent of animal abusers also abuse a member of their family. If more people can be convinced to dial 911 when they suspect animal abuse, not only will an animal be protected, but the police will have the opportunity to uncover more domestic violence cases.

“We need a new way to expose domestic violence and catch the abusers,” explains Milwaukee County District Attorney, John Chisolm, who initiated the collaborative effort. “It’s just simple math. If we can increase the number of opportunities the police have to investigate domestic abuse inside the home, the more families we can help get the resources they need and move them into safer environments.”

To inspire more Milwaukee residents to report animal abuse, Serve Marketing is kicking off the effort with a powerful public service campaign using television, billboards, radio and social media to get the message out. If you report animal abuse, you may be stopping domestic violence as well.

Billboards show pictures of abused pets next to pictures of young children with the headline, “She’s next,” imploring residents to spot animal abuse, dial 911, and stop domestic abuse. Equally provocative television and radio PSAs also deliver the connection between animal abuse and domestic violence, urging viewers that they have the power to stop two forms of abuse with one phone call. Social media outlets will build momentum and inspire action via powerful imagery. 

“We need to make people uncomfortable with their inaction when it comes to reporting abuse,” explains Serve Founder Gary Mueller, “We hope this campaign lowers the barrier to getting more domestic violence victims the help they need in Milwaukee.”

The goal of the campaign is simple. Show that by increasing the number of 911 calls for animal abuse and animal cruelty arrests year over year, there is a corresponding increase in domestic violence arrests. If the campaign can show significant increases in all three numbers, according to Chisolm, this effort can become a new model for decreasing domestic abuse in the United States.  

The outcome of the campaign is critical, as domestic violence continues to escalate in Milwaukee, increasing 48 percent in 2012. Additionally, the National Coalition of Domestic Abuse estimates that 70 percent of all abuse cases go unreported each year. 

“It is critically important for us to open doors to safety for victims of domestic violence in our community,” said Sojourner Family Peace Center Executive Director Carmen Pitre.  “While very difficult to view, these powerful images remind us that all family members, including animals, are vulnerable in a violent home.  This campaign brings to the forefront the undeniable link between domestic violence and animal abuse and we urge Milwaukee residents to take action in an effort to break the cycle of violence in as many homes as possible in our community.”

To prepare for the effort, the Milwaukee Police have undergone extensive training to familiarize officers, detectives and communications personnel with the relationship between animal abuse and the abuse of humans. 

“Because abusers who act violently toward animals often continue their violence against humans, it is critically important that every level of response from the police – from the dispatchers who receive the calls to the officers and detectives who respond and investigate – are aware of the link between animal abuse and family violence,” explains Milwaukee Police Inspector Carrianne Yerkes.

Another startling statistic from the American Humane Society reports that between 25-40 percent of battered women are unable to escape abusive situations because they worry about what will happen to their pets. This is why the Wisconsin Humane Society and Sojourner Family Peace Center offer the Safe Haven Program, which provides up to 60 days of shelter for animals of domestic violence victims.

“Many victims consider their animal a family member and will not consider leaving an abusive relationship without ensuring their beloved animal’s safety,” said Anne Reed, president & CEO at the Wisconsin Humane Society. “The Safe Haven program removes this barrier, making it possible for a victim to leave a dangerous situation knowing that her animal is safe.” 

The campaign officially launches on May 1, 2014. For more information about the campaign, please visit SpotAbuse.org. People are also encouraged to become a fan at Facebook.com/SpotAbuse, and follow at Twitter.com/SpotAbuse

About the Wisconsin Humane Society: The Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) is a private nonprofit organization whose mission is to build a community where people value animals and treat them with respect and kindness. WHS has been saving the lives of animals in need, providing quality and cost effective services for homeless animals in need for nearly 135 years, with shelters operating in Milwaukee, Ozaukee and Racine County. 

About Sojourner Family Peace Center: Sojourner Family Peace Center (SFPC) is the largest nonprofit provider of domestic violence prevention and intervention services in Wisconsin, serving over 9,500 clients each year. SFPC provides an array of support aimed at helping families affected by domestic violence achieve safety, justice and well-being since 1975.

About Serve: Serve is the country's only all-volunteer, nonprofit advertising agency, whose mission is to give under-served charitable causes a stronger voice in the community. Since 2002, Serve volunteers have created behavior-

changing public service campaigns for over 50 local and national non-profit causes from Shaken Baby Syndrome, statutory rape and teen homelessness to foster care, gun violence and teen pregnancy. Most recently, Serve's work was honored by the White House for its role in helping reduce teen pregnancy in Milwaukee by 50% over the past 6 years. For more information, go to servemarketing.org.

About MADACC: MADACC currently rescues and assures safe, temporary shelter, veterinary and humane care for nearly 13,000 stray, unwanted, abandoned, mistreated and injured animals each year — more than any other animal control shelter in Wisconsin.  MADACC provides a central location for owners to find and recover their lost pets at 3839 W. Burnham St. in West Milwaukee and is open seven days a week, including evening hours on weekdays.  MADACC rescues strays and removes dangerous animals from public areas providing effective animal control services by active enforcement of Wisconsin State Statues pertaining to animal welfare.

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  • Wednesday, April 30, 2014
  • For immediate release
  • Media Contact: Heidi Sterricker, Serve Marketing
  • 414.975.8979
  • heidi@servemarketing.com