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Continued: Women and pets: Side by side at Minnesota shelters

  • Article by: PAM LOUWAGIE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 10, 2014 - 9:13 PM

Since then, the shelter has taken in just about any pet — gerbils, birds, dogs, cats. Shelter leaders take a range of precautions, including keeping a couple of rooms animal-free for residents with allergies. The shelter won’t accept certain dog breeds. Each resident bringing a pet must sign a shelter policy agreeing to restrictions such as keeping animals out of the communal kitchen and dining room.

Seliski said it has not raised any serious problems over the years.

Tammy Berger brought her 12-pound shih tzu, pug and terrier mix, Betsy Moo Moo, with her when she came to the shelter in December. Her boyfriend had thrown the animal several feet after learning Tammy was leaving, she said.

“This was the only place I could bring my dog,” said Berger, cuddling Betsy atop the single bed that she called home for three months.

Now in her own place, she said the dog helped her move forward into a new life.

“Without Betsy, it would have been much harder, the loneliness.”

Phillips, a former Michigan prosecutor who is advocating for more pet-friendly domestic violence shelters around the country, created a list of guidelines to address concerns including insurance, allergies, loud animals and safety.

In St. Cloud, the northern Minnesota woman, whom shelter officials wouldn’t allow to be identified for safety reasons, said she misses her black-and-white cat with tuxedo markings. She hopes to get it back someday.

“He’s a good cat. He was therapeutic for me,” she said. “I cried when I had to leave him.”


Pam Louwagie • 612-673-7102


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  • Tammy Berger spent three months at the Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center in Brainerd with her dog Betsy Moo Moo after leaving a boyfriend abusive to both of them.

  • Tammy Berger her "Betsy Moo Moo."

  • Women’s Center founder Louise Seliski, at left with Berger and her dog, said the Brainerd shelter has allowed pets in certain areas since the 1970s without incident.

  • Seliski recalled an early client of the shelter whose husband threatened to kill a cat if she didn’t come home. He later beat the animal to death with a bat.

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