Sunday, February 14, 2010
I ran across this article and wanted to share it via passing it along. To me, it became a warning sign long ago...
By Kate Santich
Sentinel Staff Writer
The campaign against domestic violence is recruiting what might seem like unlikely new foot soldiers these days: animal lovers.
In an effort to protect potential victims of domestic violence, Harbor
House — Orange County's only domestic-violence shelter — is reaching
out to veterinarians, animal-cruelty investigators, law enforcement and
neighbors to watch for signs of animal abuse that may indicate a deeper
pattern of family violence.
"I think it would change the face of domestic violence if people
understood how close that relationship is between animal abuse and
domestic violence," said Harbor House CEO Carol Wick. "When you start
getting people angry about pets being victimized, it may create a lot
more awareness and protection for the people involved."
The recent case of radio personality Shannon Burke,
who is charged with animal cruelty for the April 30 shooting of his
wife's dog, has only heightened awareness of what domestic-violence
experts say is a common scenario. In a sworn statement filed in court,
Catherine Burke said her husband had threatened, "I'm going to shoot
the dog in the head, and you're going to watch."
The bullet wounded the dog, then grazed Catherine Burke's forehead. Later, both she and Burke said it was all an accident.
Phil Arkow, director of the American Humane Association's "The Link"
program — formed a year ago to educate the public about the subject —
said pets frequently become pawns in violent or manipulative
"Abusers use that bond between humans and animals as a weapon to coerce
and control and humiliate their victims and to keep them trapped in
abusive relationships," he said.
Pets can be abusers' pawns
Arkow, who spoke in
Orlando last week at Harbor House's invitation, is working with Florida
advocates to introduce a bill in the Legislature next year allowing
people to include pets when seeking restraining orders — something
possible now in 10 states and the District of Columbia. The move would
allow a pet owner whose animal has been threatened to help keep an
abuser at a distance and disarmed.
According to a national survey, 71 percent of women entering shelters
reported that their batterer had injured, killed or threatened family
pets for revenge. Most of the time, the animal abuse takes place in
front of the woman or her children, adding to their trauma.
Harbor House has started training Orange County's animal-cruelty
investigators on how to recognize and respond to cases of domestic
violence. This month, staffers also enlisted about 50 local
veterinarians to put up posters and pass out postcards on the issue.
The vets are tying a symbolic purple ribbon on each pet's collar in
remembrance of domestic-violence victims.
Perhaps most important, Harbor House has been raising money to build a
kennel on its shelter property, allowing victims to bring their pets
with them when they seek refuge. The kennel, due to be built next year,
will be the first of its kind in Central Florida and only the second in
One of the leading reasons victims stay with their abusers is the fear
of what will happen to their pets if they're left behind. Some may have
come to love their pets more than themselves.
That was the case for Darla Ward, who was stabbed to death by the man
she had thought was the love of her life. It came after years of
torment from her former husband and various boyfriends, starting when
she was just 19.
'Decided to teach her a lesson'
"One day I came
home from school to find Darla in the bedroom we had shared, curled up
in a ball, crying," said her younger sister, Karen Ward Procell, now an
Orlando attorney and an advocate for victims of domestic violence.
"See, she had gone to the grocery store that day and her husband
thought she had spent a little too long talking to the clerk — a boy
that had lived across the street from us for as long as I could
remember. When they got home from the store, he decided to teach her a
He ran over the puppy he had given his young wife just a few weeks earlier, Procell said. It was dead.
Ward left her husband, only to pursue a relationship with another
abuser. He, too, killed her pets and those of her children — bunnies,
turtles, fish — before ultimately stabbing her 31 times, once for each
year of her life. It was Thanksgiving Day 1993.
Lavonia Spann was convicted of murder and sentenced to prison in Ohio. He has his first parole hearing next month.
"It's easy to look back now and think about all the things we could
have done to save my sister, but back then the crystal ball wasn't so
clear," Procell said. "But what we can do is use what we've learned to
Kate Santich can be reached at 407-420-5503 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Central Florida domestic-violence hotlines
•Orange County: Harbor House, Orlando, 407-886-2856.
• Osceola County: Help Now of Osceola County, 407-847-8562.
• Lake County: Haven of Lake and Sumter Counties, 352-753-5800.
• Volusia County: Domestic Abuse Council Inc., 386-255-2102.
• Seminole County: SafeHouse of Seminole, 407-330-3933.
Friday, February 5, 2010
My husband and I are on the other side of the coin. My grandson was being neglected and the state took him from my daughter, and the father of my grandson. We, as grandparents thought, okay within 3 months, Kaden would be back with my daughter. She would do what she had to do, to get her son back. She had to complete a plan. She did not, nor did the father, but in the meantime had a baby girl, Taylor. Well, the state took her as well and we got her. Eleven months later they brought us my second grandson at 3 days old. So we had all three.
On my side, my daughter and the father's of the children did not do their part. So we were to adopt all three. Our home study was for all three. Well, the social worker showed up and told us they were putting the two older ones in a non-family foster home for pre-adoption, and we were to focus on adopting the little one. So they pulled the siblings away, and they do not see one another. I have seen them once since they left in Dec. 2008. When they went to the non-family foster home, I got on the phone and called their other grandma. She ended up getting them and just recently adopted them, but here it still is where siblings are pulled apart. We would have already had the two older ones adopted before the other little one was born, but the state kept asking for a continuance. So Kaden was in foster care in our home, in the non-family foster's home, and then the paternal grandmother's; up until he was 5 1/2 years old from being 5 weeks old when he was placed in foster care. Taylor was in foster care since she was 3 days and will be 4 here soon. Brezy came to us at 3 days old and we adopted him a month before he turned 2. So there is no consistency when it comes to the foster care system.
When we became foster parents, it stated the child has to be placed in a pre-adoptive home if a family member cannot adopt within 15-22 months of foster care, if the birth parents are still unable to have their children back. Also, that- they do not separate siblings. We, as foster parents, saw a birth mom go through the loss of her girls. It was allegations and nothing happened, but because of one child being upset and saying something, she lost all three of her girls to the state. They came into the foster system; when in actuality, these girls just needed a safer place to live, along with their mother.
CPS is for the money. If a foster parent calls for vouchers, then you are not considered a good foster parent. If a foster parent calls with an issue in regards to the child, you are not a good foster parent. You are a good foster parent as long as you take the check each month and do not complain.
CPS is not for the children. They are for their own paychecks and the extra help the state gets in money, grants and much more. IF a child cannot live with their birth parents, then they belong with a family with NO STATE involved. So many parents are losing their children to CPS, because they get more funding basically, with the more they have in foster care.
You see all those commercials where they need more foster parents to provide a home for children that need homes. It is them, (CPS) needing more money. A parent never knows when there is going to be allegations brought up against them, whether the truth or not.
I can see if a child is not in a clean home, goes to school filthy and starved. A child can get a bruise from anywhere. I wonder if they have ever stopped to think how many times they, as adults, have bruised their head by getting in and out of the car and hitting their head on top of the door frame? Or tripped over a toy and got a bruise when the toy flew up and got them in their lower chin? There are many adults, like children, who have bruised their tailbones from falling. I am a good one for running into walls! They seem not to move when I expected them to. *OUCH!*
Many parents want to be parents... and they are without their children because of CPS. Yes, there are children in the system due to obvious reasons. Parents doing drugs and the children being abused, because the parents are so wrapped up in their drug world. If they cannot take the initiative to change their ways, then no- they do not deserve to get their children back to put them into a drug environment.
I also feel, if there is a reason for a child not being with their parents, then they should be placed with a family. They should not have to go through the state system. If a birth parent needs help and they are accepting the help, then their child should be given back to them once they have sought help and gotten the help they needed.
If a child is taken by allegations, CPS you were not there! The child is telling you what happened. If a parent was not even present when this allegation supposedly took place, then how can you take their child away from them?
People- lets wake up and save our children! We did adopt a very precious child of God's. We miss the two we were to have, but the state intervened. We, as parents, must protect our children and stand up for the little ones that cannot on their own. If a child tells you that nothing happened, that does not mean for someone from the state to continue to pressure the child, and then the child changes their statement in fear.
CPS, you go to the home when you get a call. You should be able to tell if that child is neglected or not, just by the home and the environment the child is in. Also, you should be able to tell If the child is not bruised, doesn't have welts or showing signs of abuse. Most likely, the allegation came from someone that is upset with the parents and are using the children to get back at them. Stop and think of the children- not the paycheck you get or the funds the state receives, which you live on is going to give, so that you may have a job. Did you not become a Social Worker to be an advocate for children that are actually being abused?
My heart continues to break with not having the other two grandbabies that WE were to adopt. I know they are safe for now. I know they are cared for and loved. But, that does not stop my heart from aching... We, as foster parents, were not allowed to be called grandparents to our grandchildren, because they were in the foster system. We feel like we have lost our own children.
The state took a part of us away. They took a part of Brezy away. They say, “no biggie, he will not remember.” Well he does! He knows who his sister and brother is. He even knows that he has a sister with his birth mom in another state. These children that they like to say, “we took these babies away from their birth mom because of drug use.” But, yet turn around and separate the siblings. Siblings that were all on the same Adoption Home Study that my husband and I passed, even with the disabilities I have. Nothing was hid- nothing was left in the closet from our side. But yet, they came in and took our grandbabies and put them into a foster home, one that they were even abused in. We were told we could see them anytime we wanted, but then it turned into, "well they need some time to adjust in the foster home before you see them." We were to be allowed weekends of them staying with us. They were also to stay with us through Thanksgiving, knowing that they were leaving the state to be with their other grandma who rescued them from staying in the system. We never got those times. We got one night, from the time they placed them in the foster home until their father’s mother was able to get them. She stayed with us one night about 2 weeks before Christmas before taking them to another state.
We send cards and gifts constantly to them and rarely hear that they get the items. I went down to see them and was in the area for 5 days and got to see them 3 times. They were aggressive and such when I left them, this I was told. Well, guess why? The state did not keep three little people together with what they considered their Mama and Papa. You think they are going to forget? Now, we rarely get to talk to them. We still send gifts and cards in hopes they are getting them. Some day they will be old enough. They will appreciate the love they got from their grandma, but they will want to see Mama and Papa someday.
This is what CPS is doing to families. They are breaking up homes. These children needed foster care, and we were there for them, plus also, 19 other children. Some should have never been taken from their birth homes, but... some needed to be. There are so many birth families that are on the verge of losing their children through terminations, even though they have done everything that the state requires them to do. Not just in the state we live in, but every state throughout our nation.
Parents and grandparents when is enough- ENOUGH? When will our hearts stop breaking apart and the ache subside?
I have a poem I wrote back in 1996. Definitely before I had grandchildren, but this is dedicated to our babies as the state felt was their right to separate them from another sibling.
Missing You Both…
Whenever we miss you both,
It always brings to mind,
The thoughts and hopes we shared together
And our many happy times.
We think about the laughter,
And the quiet moments too.
We think of all the things,
So unique to us and you two.
And though the many miles,
Make it seem we’re far apart,
The many warm memories like these
Keep you both forever in our hearts.
(Poem revised 2009)