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The Power of Social Media and Community

A very special client came to us as she had overstayed her student visa from France. As it turned out, she was the victim of an abusive spouse, who had been a lawful permanent resident. They were recently divorced and she came to us to inquire how she could legalize her status in the U.S. We filed and were successful in having her VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) petition approved last month. We immediately filed for her adjustment of status and are only awaiting her interview date at present. All she needed was a few more weeks and she would be able to get her life back together.

However, since the dissolution of her marriage, she had fallen on hard times. Without work authorization she lost her job and apartment and was forced to stay with someone she thought was a friend. Recently, she learned that the “friend” used drugs and became abusive, ultimately threatening her with an illegal gun he kept in the apartment.

Our client called me in hysterics because he threatened her life, as well as her canine companion, a chocolate lab she had brought with her from France nearly four years ago. Since she had no other friends or family, we were able, to get her into a wonderful and safe shelter for battered women. The problem arose when we discovered that she could not take her dog with her. The police were kind enough to transport her dog to a local vet and contact a Labrador rescue group. The next problem was that the vet, in conjunction with the rescue group, could only hold the dog for 24 hours before they terminated her ownership and placed the dog for adoption.

We immediately began a campaign to search for a family to foster this pup while our client remained in the shelter awaiting her immigration interview. We sent mass emails and posted her story on Facebook and Twitter, protecting her identity. Within minutes we had several inquiries and responses to our request. We took calls, fielded questions and by the following morning, a neighbor of a friend of a friend committed to fostering her dog. Once the paperwork was sorted out, the dog was able to go home with a family, who recently lost their lab.

The outpouring of kindness and ultimate generosity of friends and strangers overwhelmed us. The plight of this unfortunate woman and her unwitting companion have a happy ending in this case. It is worth sharing a bit of good news that in the community of strangers, kindness can still exist and extend to others and their four-legged friends.

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