IPV and Pet Ownership: A Discussion regarding SafePet Ontario


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By Rhodes Thompson-Chase

Intimate Partner Violence and animal abuse are closely linked. Through my discussion with SafePet Ontario Executive Director, Hayley Glaholt, it’s clear she is doing vital work.

SafePet Ontario is a growing volunteer run organization that coordinates foster care for pets of individuals fleeing domestic violence. The program helps survivors seek safety while ensuring their pet receives proper care until they’re safe and can reunite.

During our discussion, Glaholt illuminated the research surrounding IPV and animal abuse. The reality is that in Ontario, 48% of women experiencing domestic violence delay leaving their abuser due to fear that their pet will be harmed if left behind with their partner. SafePet Ontario removes a significant barrier for those fleeing abuse by caring for their pet(s) until the survivor is stabilized and safe. Most shelters don’t accept pets when doing intake for survivors of abuse. For survivors who are unable to find a trusted family member, friend or co-worker to care for their pet(s), SafePet Ontario can save lives.

Clients using SafePet Ontario can be assured that their pet is safe and taken care of. Pet foster parents provide pets with food, shelter and appropriate exercise so that individuals at risk of abuse can transition to safety without having to worry about their pet’s well-being. Veterinarians complete a health exam and administer any needed vaccinations to the animal. The identities of the pet’s owner and the foster parent are kept strictly confidential for the security and well-being of all involved.

SafePet Ontario is at a critical moment in their growth. There is always a need for volunteers to keep the work going. There is always a great need for animals fosters and donations. If you have a client or know someone experiencing family violence or human trafficking, who has an animal, take the time to make a referral to SafePet Ontario. A referral can come from any organization or professional who is actively assisting with someone’s transition to safety.

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You can learn much more about available services, mediation, court process, separation, divorce and the law by visiting us at one of our Family Law Information Centres (FLIC).


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