Zazie, This is a vital need that needs to be examined and addressed on many levels. Behavioral studies literature on abuse of pets has shown a high correlation to physical abuse of domestic partners and family members. Further, the initial use for the physical abuser of pets is for psychological abuse and control. Literature and studies show a high potential to escalate to actual physical abuse.
Other substantiating studies to the need for shelters allowing pets can also be seen in how emotionally attached people are to their pets. Hurricane shelters amended their stance upon seeing how many people would forego rescue or protective shelter if it meant abandoning their pets. Divorce court judgements are full of pet custody and even visitation orders. Domestic violence case studies also show how pets are used to control the abused family member — and the consequences — (horribly mutilated or killed pets left for the member to find).
Offering the abused a shelter that allows pets can only be a benefit and will help remove another barrier to leaving the domination of the abuser.