Keeping Your Pets Safe

domestic abuse hotline

Keeping Your Pets Safe

petsThere are many reasons why beloved animals may become homeless: overpopulation due to lack of spaying and neutering, pet owners who decide they no longer wish to keep their pets, pets that run away from home, pets who are abused by their owners. However, many pets are also displaced as a result of domestic violence.

According to Safe Place for Pets, up to 65% of domestic violence victims are unable to escape their abusive partners because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets when they leave. In many cases, victims of domestic violence may try to take their pets with them when they are able to leave the relationship, but find that their local domestic violence shelters do not accept pets. Fortunately, this is changing, and shelters for domestic violence and abuse victims are beginning to create spaces for pets. Thanks to the Animal Welfare Institute’s Safe Havens Mapping Project, it’s becoming easier to locate shelters that accept pets.

Check out the Pets & DV page on our website and click to find shelters in your area.

If you are in an abusive relationship and have pets in your home, it can be a good idea to make your pets part of your safety plan. Here are a few suggestions for safety planning with pets:

  • If possible, don’t leave pets alone with an abusive partner.
  • If you’re thinking about getting a protective order, consider that some states allow pets to be a part of these.

If you are planning to leave:

  • Talk to friends, family or your veterinarian about temporary care for your pet. If that is not an option, search by state or zip code for services that assist domestic violence survivors with safekeeping for their pets. Try zip code first, and if there are no results, try a search by state. If none of the results are feasible for your situation, try contacting your local domestic violence or animal shelter directly. For help finding an animal shelter, visit the Humane Society website.
  • Take steps to prove ownership of your pet: have them vaccinated and license them with your town, ensuring that these registrations are made in your name (you can change them if they aren’t).
  • Pack a bag for your pet that includes:
    • food
    • medicine
    • documents of ownership (receipts from adoption or purchase of pet, license to establish ownership, receipts for animal purchases)
    • health documents (veterinary or vaccination records)
    • leash or carrier
    • ID and rabies tag, if a dog or cat (these will also help establish ownership)
    • toys
    • bedding
  • If you must leave without your pet, remember to leave enough food, fresh bedding, litter, etc. for your pet.
  • If you’ve had to leave your pet behind with your abusive partner, try to ask for assistance from law enforcement officials or animal control to see if they can intervene.

If you are able to leave with your pet:

  • Keep pets indoors (if possible)
  • Avoid leaving the pet outside alone
  • Pick a safe route and time to walk your pet
  • Don’t exercise or walk pet alone
  • Change your veterinarian

Remember, your situation is unique, and these tips may not work for everyone. You can always call or chat with an advocate at The Hotline for more information. We can help you brainstorm ways to keep yourself and your pets safe!

Comment section

4 replies
  1. My ex boyfriend who I was gonna marrie kid didn’t like me I ask him to please remove his son from the home so I can move and he didn’t I didn’t think of a 15 year old boy would do this but he stole my dog and torchered and murdered my maddy girl she was a standered Chihuahua his son shot her twice and harried her in my back yard I found my dog cuz I was going to college to become a cop and learn alot from the school and seen a plack in my back yard I kicked it and sand was soft I dug up a bag in a pig feed bag :-,,,( I dump the bag and found my dog I lost it Cryed called cops now the boy is in court system and we are in court Nov 6th but he also made me feel unsafe for me and my son so I moved out so I ended up loosen my dog plus my boyfriend and my home and now staying with my friend but homeless otherwise thanks to that kid but I’m trying to be positive and my son who ten misses his dog but very down….

  2. Dear Tracy,

    Thank you for sharing such a tragic story. I can imagine that you and your son are heartbroken. A dog is a part of the family so of course you are both very sad. It sound like the environment was very unsafe for you and your son. I’m glad you were able to move out but I’m sorry this has left you homeless. Maybe some professional counseling would help you and your son during this difficult time. Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233.

    Hotline Advocate MT

  3. hello i have 3 mix breed cats i m havingg prob with hubby.. he hit me a lot… he took all my phone n closed me in one room… plz help me i m in mumbai… he doubts on me since 4 yrs..plz help me n my animals

  4. Nahid,

    I’m so sorry that you’re going through this, and I’m really glad that you’re reaching out. It sounds like your situation is very serious and you definitely deserve support. Because you are not in the US, we may not be the best resources for you, but I would encourage you to explore Hot Peach Pages, which offers resources in other countries, Including India. Some shelters and programs offer shelter for pets as well, so they may be able to help you find a safe place for yourself and your cats.

    Thank you so much for reaching out and please remember to make your safety a priority throughout this process.

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