Published: Dec 07, 2012 10:28 AM EST

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Victims of domestic violence in the Orlando area won't have to leave their pets behind when escaping abuse.
    
A long-awaited kennel opened Thursday at Orange County's domestic-violence shelter Harbor House.
    
The Orlando Sentinel (http://thesent.nl/SCLzhe ) reports the $500,000 facility is the only free-standing domestic violence kennel in Florida and one of the largest in the country.
    
Officials cite studies that have shown more than 48 percent of victims wait or refuse to leave an abusive situation because they don't want to leave a pet behind.
    
The Sentinel reports that of the nation's 2,500 domestic violence shelters, only 70 accept pets.
    
The shelter can accommodate at least 10 cats and 10 dogs. It features a screened cat visitation porch, an outdoor dog park and a veterinary exam area.
    
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Information from: Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com

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