SALINE COUNTY, Ark. — In Saline County, you’ll find lots of people willing to help.
The area is growing fast, but with more people, come additional needs and difficulties.
Jennifer and Clint Lancaster met in law school and connected over their shared goal: to be a voice for the voiceless.
Their passion became a career, starting the Lancaster Law Firm to help domestic violence victims and their pets escape abuse together.
They are the founders of The Lancaster Animal Project, a mission to rescue neglected pets and push animal laws through the court system.
“While they are animals, they do have thoughts and they don’t matter in many cases,” said Jennifer.
Many of the people they represent are domestic violence victims who seek a safe place.
Through working those cases, they’ve noticed a disturbing trend.
“We’ve handled cases where the pets have been abused, neglected, and even killed,” said Jennifer.
Their clients are often times forced to leave their pets behind, so they often become the victim.
“When they are getting out of that situation, it’s absolute chaos,” said Cline. “It’s: 'Where am I going to go? Where am I going to take my children?'”
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 52% of women in shelters left their pets with their abuser, and 71% of victims entering a shelter said their abuser threatened, injured, or killed their family pet.
“What we are trying to do is two-fold,” said Clint. “We are trying to make a path of least resistance for a victim of domestic violence to get out and be okay and protect the animals.”
Through their non-profit, the couple secured the “Escape Grant.”
It’s financial assistance for victims with pets who are escaping their abuser.
“We will provide the funding to cover up to 30 days of boarding, vaccinations, food, and other necessities for that animal,” said Jennifer.
JaJuan Archer was one of those people.
She witnessed the emotional turmoil of abuse first-hand.
“I’m an advocate now because I went through all these things,” said Archer.
The one link that kept Archer and her kids together was their dog.
“You have a child with a dog at home and you see how much love that animal gives a child,” said Archer. “It may not be a certified therapy dog, but it provides therapy when you need it most.”
Now, Archer helps many victims through her non-profit “Women’s Own Worth.”
She helps secure counseling, housing, and resources for victims while comforting them along the way.
“Women’s Own Worth” and “The Lancaster Animal Project” are working together to bring hope to the hurting.
“Giving them that peace of mind that their family is intact and that everyone is safe and that they can focus on themselves,” said Jennifer.
Anyone escaping a domestic violence situation can apply for the grant.
To receive it, survivors are required to be working with a domestic violence shelter or advocacy group.
You can find that application online at LancasterAnimalProject.com