Models walked rescued dogs on yellow leashes down the runway at the Dogs & Divas Fashion Show fundraiser Friday at South Shore Harbour Resort.

The event was a fundraiser for a pilot program, Safe Paws, to foster the pets of abused women who seek shelter from Bay Area Turning Point.

The yellow leashes meant those dogs were available to adopt from the Friends of League City Animal Shelter.

“Can you imagine how exciting it is for me to bring these two passions together?” said Monica Millican, president of Friends of League City Animal Shelter. She had previously volunteered as a board member and in other ways for Bay Area Turning Point for 21 years.

“We got our first pet in the program today,” Millican said. “It’s a fish. The woman said she wouldn’t leave her fish.”

A foster family was also getting ready Friday to take in a dog for another client of the women’s shelter, Millican said.

The fundraising event marked the start of the Safe Paws program, an effort to encourage battered women to leave an abusive partner.

Five out of seven times a woman attempts to leave an abusive partner she fails because she doesn’t want to leave a pet behind, said Lisa Dishman, director of marketing for Bay Area Turning Point.

Meanwhile, 52 percent of domestic violence victims left their pets with their batterer when they went into a shelter, and in homes where domestic violence happens, 88 percent of pets are also abused or killed, Dishman said.

The fashion show included women in casual dresses and pants, perfect clothes for walking dogs. It also showcased models in formal dresses.

In the middle of the show, men dressed in black walked slowly down the runway, took off their jackets and revealed a black T-shirt with a number on it. Each number was a statistic, and the delivery of the message was better than a PowerPoint presentation in a conference room.

Each T-shirt had a different number, and mistress of ceremonies Lisa Hernandez of KHOU TV explained the meaning as each man walked down the runway.

One in three women has been abused by an intimate partner, and one in four men has been abused by an intimate partner. Seventy-five percent of women who are abused have children under the age of 18 living at home. Every nine seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten.

Last year, 9,864 people got help through Bay Area Turning Point.

Another segment of the show included models walking stiff leashes with no dogs attached to represent pets that have died because of abuse or neglect.

“May we never lose another pet to domestic violence in our community,” Dishman said.

Valerie Wells: 409-683-5246; valerie.wells@galvnews.com


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