BARRK to end domestic violence

Walk, Run, or WOOF to raise funds for ending domestic violence

When I met Jenny Dwyer earlier this year I knew she was the kind of pet-oriented professional I wanted to be in line with. Her company Mutt Nose Best is located at 30 Bomarc Road in Bangor and its mission is to provide environmentally-friendly and chemical-free dog grooming products. The shampoos and balms Mutt Nose Best crafts in its Bangor facility are in over 700 locations nationwide and now they can be found overseas.

With all that success, you might think that the company is focused on the products and its business plan. But that’s not so. And on Saturday, September 28, Mutt Nose Best will host its first event: “BARKK… to End the Silence, a 5K Walk, Run, or WOOF: A dog-friendly dash to end domestic violence.” The event will happen on the Bangor Waterfront from 8:30 a.m.-Noon.

This cause is one near and dear to Dwyer who is a survivor of an abusive relationship.

And she’s not alone. In Maine in 2012 police recorded 5,593 domestic assaults, up from 5,353 in 2011. According to The Animal Welfare Society, animals are abused in over 88 percent of homes where people are abused.

And while she doesn’t have children, she does have dogs. The day she decided to leave, she made sure she took her two dogs, Cooper and Kiwi, with her.

“I felt I couldn’t leave when I should have because I didn’t have a place I could go with my dogs,” Dwyer said. “Leaving them wasn’t an option. And it wasn’t because I thought he’d hurt them. It was because I couldn’t leave without them. They were my kids.”

According to the Maine chapter of the Humane Society of the United States, studies have shown that 48 percent of battered women delay leaving a dangerous situation due to fear for their pets’ safety. That barrier includes the lack of shelters that allow family pets to come along with their humans. While Maine is a pioneer in protecting animals in homes where there is violence, there are still no shelters in the state which accept pets.

The event, in conjunction with the Mutt Nose Best Foundation, is determined to make leaving early in the abusive relationship a little easier.

“It is our mission to provide grants to domestic violence shelters to help them become equipped to house family pets so these special furry family members are not separated from the humans they love during such a traumatic event,” Dwyer said. “Until that goal is met, we will strive to provide funding for families in harm’s way for emergency temporary, pet-friendly housing, or a temporary foster home for their animals.”

In addition to helping shelters overcome the barrier of taking pets, Dwyer’s organization will work with a network of pet-friendly hotels and foster homes to enable people to get out with their animals, even if for just one or two nights.

To register for the event, visit muttnosebest.eventbrite.com. The registration cost is $25 plus $2.37 in fees and is open to solo humans or human-canine combos.

To read Jenny’s story, visit critters.bangordailynews.com/2013/06/13/events/life-after-leaving.

Debra Bell is a freelance writer and graphic designer and is the owner of Bell’s Furry Friends Photography (a division of Bell Imaging & Design LLC). She, and her husband Bill, are owned by a Maine coon cat named Olivia and a greyhound named Laura. She also writes a blog called “Critters” located at critters.bangordailynews.com.