DADE CITY, Fla. (WFLA) — Sunrise of Pasco County has been awarded a $60,000 grant to keep survivors of domestic violence and their pets safe after they escape their abuser.

Pets play a huge role in a survivor’s ability to heal.

“Often times, our survivors are coming with just their clothing on their back,” said Cara Donaghy, the director of shelter services at Sunrise. “They’re leaving after leaving everything they know.”

That includes their pets.

Donaghy said 71% of survivors report that their animals have been abused or killed by their abuser, which keeps nearly half of all survivors from leaving immediately.

“Pets are our family and so many of our survivors have said that so being able to bring just that little comforting thing or piece of home with them is going to help them on their healing journey more,” said Donaghy.

Sunrise is a shelter that houses 40 survivors and offers outreach, counseling, legal advocacy, economic empowerment services. The organization has been proving services since 1982.

For the first time, a new pet-friendly space will be built at Sunrise thanks to a $60,000 grant from RedRover, a national animal welfare nonprofit.

“It’s a dream come true it’s something we’ve been hoping for a very long time,” said Donaghy.

The grant money will be used to build and renovate spaces to house pets at the shelter.

“We know that pets are absolutely abused in the power and control that abusers use and so it’s really, really important that one we were move that barrier to safety for a survivor,” said Katie Campbell, Director of Collaboration and Outreach at RedRover.

Campbell said only 17% of domestic violence shelters nationwide welcome pets. RedRover, the national organization that helps bring animals out of crisis, is trying to change that.

“This means in Pasco County survivors are going to be able to leave an abuser with their pet and find that safety and healing together,” said Campbell.

RedRover has awarded eleven domestic violence shelters and one animal shelter with $572,502 in safe housing grants.

“We’re thrilled our grant can help Sunrise of Pasco County become a pet-friendly shelter! We will keep working diligently to ensure that 25% of domestic violence shelters become pet friendly by 2025,” said RedRover president and CEO Nicole Forsyth.