Many people wonder why women can sometimes choose to stay with their abuser. While there are many reasons, some women choose to stay because their abuser has threatened to harm or kill a household pet, and used this threat as leverage to trap women in these relationships. Nearly 90% of domestic violence survivors in shelters across Canada had their pet brutalized or killed by an abusive partner. Those who have pets know that the loss of the pet can often feel like the loss of a family member. Sadly, due to resource constraints, women’s shelters are unable to provide shelter to pets.
That’s why the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) created the SafePet Program, and partnered with local organizations like Link Toronto, who work with Toronto-based women’s shelters including Ernestine’s to help women fleeing abuse find a safe and temporary home for their pets. By addressing the need for their pets’ safety, women are able to make the best choices for themselves and their children.
In order to adequately support survivors of violence, multi-agency collaboration is required. We are grateful to Link Toronto and the OVMA for helping us provide holistic care to families who are fleeing violence and abuse. Thanks to them, our families are able to access safety and heal from trauma without having to worry about their beloved pets being harmed or killed.
To learn more about the SafePet Program, please contact Link Toronto to speak with a representative.