Safety Planning with Pets

It’s normal to be concerned about what will happen to your pets if you leave. If you’re creating a safety plan to leave an abusive relationship, safety planning for your pets is essential to ensure all your loved ones have a path to safety.

  • Take steps to prove ownership of your pet. Have them vaccinated and licensed in the place where you live, making sure the registrations are done in your name. Take steps to have them changed if necessary.
  • If possible, avoid leaving pets alone with an abusive partner.
  • If your pet is microchipped, make sure your abusive partner is not listed as a contact.
  • If you’re planning to leave, talk to friends, family, or your veterinarian about temporary care for your pet if necessary. If that’s not an option, search for services that assist domestic violence survivors with safekeeping for their pets, or contact your local domestic violence shelter or animal shelter directly. For help finding an animal shelter, visit the Humane Society website.
  • If you decide to leave, bring extra provisions for your pets including food and medications, copies of their medical records, and important phone numbers.
  • If you’re thinking about getting a protective order, find out if your state allows pets to be included in such orders.
  • After leaving, consider changing veterinarians and avoid leaving pets outside alone to ensure their long-term safety.
  • If you’ve had to leave your pet behind with an abusive partner, consider seeking assistance from local services like animal control to see if they can intervene.

The Animal Welfare Institute offers additional tips for safety planning with pets as well as state-by-state resources for pet-friendly shelters through the Safe Havens Mapping Project. Organizations like Georgia-based Ahimsa House and Littlegrass Ranch in Texas offer further resources for safety planning with animals, particularly for non-traditional pets that may be more difficult to transport.

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