Written By: Andrea J. – TCR Volunteer.
SafePet is a program that assists women with pets who are leaving abusive relationships. According to a 1998 survey done by the OSPCA, “48% of surveyed women who had left their abusive partner said that their pets delayed their decision to leave an abusive partner” and “61% of Ontario women who had left their abusive partner stated that their partners had brutalized or killed a pet.” Pets are not allowed in women’s shelters. Many women are faced with a devastating decision about what they will do with their pets as they are leaving an abusive partner.
SafePet was created in 2003, by the OVMA (Ontario Veterinary Medical Association), and has steadily expanded. The program works like this:
• A woman who has made a plan to leave makes contact with a women’s shelter (usually through assistance from groups like the Assaulted Women’s Helpline). The shelter, a SafePet participant, will access the program by contacting a participating veterinary clinic (for care up to two weeks) or in some cases, the animals are fostered in volunteers’ homes for longer periods of time.
• While the woman is staying in a shelter, her pets are cared for in these safe environments. In addition, if desired, the woman is able to maintain contact with her animals by visiting them in the neutral environment of a veterinary clinic.
• Pet Foster Parents can receive assistance in paying for food and pet care products from OVMA’s supportive industry partners.
• Once the woman is back on her feet again, her animals can rejoin her. This service is also completely confidential. The identities of the woman using the SafePet Program, or of the volunteers are never disclosed.
The SafePet program assists all kinds companion of animals — from pocket pets to cats and dogs. More foster homes are always needed. Foster homes can specify the type of animal they would like to assist, and for what duration of time they are able to care for the animal.
If you are a woman in a relationship that involves domestic violence, and you need support or assistance, contact the Assaulted Women’s Helpline: http://www.awhl.org GTA:416.863.0511, Toll-Free:1.866.863.0511 TTY: 416.364.8762 Toll-Free TTY: 1.866.863.7868