Victims and Pets Care for One Another

You can’t help thinking of Ben Williams comment “There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face” when you visit Noah’s Animal House.  Although it looks like a typical pet day care, tenants of Noah’s Animal House have been through the same ordeals as their owners, from homelessness to violent abuse.

Marlene Richter, executive director of the Shade Tree, a safe haven for women and children in North Las Vegas and the parent organization of Noah’s, says that without a guaranteed place for their pets, many women chose not to seek the shelter’s help. Especially in cases of domestic abuse, Richter has seen it make the difference between women staying in bad situations and breaking free. The bond between people and pets can be vital to recovery and even survival.

Pets have a positive impact on healing, no matter what the trauma. Noah’s has the capacity to house 15 dogs and 15 cats at a time, with foster options for reptiles, fish and even farm animals. Seeing the results, other shelters have inquired about intake processes and operations so they can begin to offer similar services.

“This process of having Noah’s here and watching families get bonded back together and get on their feet and move out has taught me an awful lot about forgiveness,” Richter says. “It’s really an incredible journey that our very brave clients face each day, and they’re smiling and laughing and pushing forward. And there’s their dog or their cat right beside them. … People come in that aren’t ready to talk about why they’re coming in, and we don’t care. We just want you to come in. We just want you to be safe, trust us, and then the story comes out.”

“The bottom line is that what we do at Noah’s Animal House not only saves animals lives but saves people’s lives as well,” Noah’s manager and licensed veterinary technician Crystal McIntosh says. “It is an amazing thing to be a part of.”

Learn more at Erin Ryan’s Las Vegas Weekly article: The power of purrs, wags and kindness at Noah’s Animal House.