MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. – The dogs bark and whine, pawing at the chain-link fence. A white sport utility vehicle, emblazoned with “Marine Corps Police,” abruptly stops. The tires send rocks flying in the parking lot. The military working dog handler, leash in hand, moves from the driver’s side to the passenger door. The door opens and out jumps a massive, black and brown Belgian Malinois. This military working dog is here to support a worthy cause.
The “Purple Paws for a Cause” event, sponsored by the Marine Corps Community Services Yuma Family Advocacy Program, was held at Meyers Park Youth Sports Complex aboard MCAS Yuma, Oct. 21, 2016.
Service members, their families and their beloved dogs gathered to raise awareness about the correlation between domestic violence and animal abuse.
“A lot of people don’t realize that when there is domestic abuse, animals are at risk as well,” said Erin Yasher, the Family Advocacy Program manager at MCAS Yuma. “If there is animal abuse in the home, then adults or other humans are at risk for abuse as well.”
October marks National Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, an annual observance designated to inform and educate the public on domestic violence, and to provide people with available resources.
“It is an ongoing issue that we struggle with in our society, with both women and men as victims. We think that the more people are educated about not only domestic violence, but our services, we can prevent this from occurring in the future,” said Yasher, a Phoenix, Arizona, native.
Sara Guerra, a victim advocate with the Family Advocacy Program, said, “People don’t see the link [between animal abuse and domestic violence] and it’s huge. I think it is a great event to bring awareness to animal abuse and the link it has to domestic violence.”
The event started off with a half-mile walk, then a K-9 demonstration sponsored by the station Provost Marshal’s Office (PMO). Available throughout the event were information booths and participants, and their furry friends got to throw their luck in for a raffle drawing.
“We’ve had a lot of support from PMO, the K-9 unit, as well as [the civilian entities that have sponsored and donated their time], and everyone on base has made this event possible,” stated Guerra, a Yuma native.
Each year, the MCAS Yuma Family Advocacy Program hosts a number of education and awareness events throughout the month to recognize the negative impacts domestic violence has on families.
The Family Advocacy Program has a 24-hour help line number available at 928-941-3650.
“We encourage people to call and make reports if they have any concerns of abuse or neglect that they know about,” said Yasher. “We want family members and the command to know about the services we provide. We [also] want to be about prevention, rather than intervention. Hopefully this event will assist us in that endeavor.”
To learn more about the services and classes offered by the Victim Advocacy Program on MCAS Yuma, please call (928) 269-2561.