A study released by the Alberta SPCA in November 2012 revealed that 59% of pet-owning women in emergency shelters delayed leaving the abusive environment out of concern for their pets. In 36% of the cases, animals were threatened by the abuser – and 85% of those threats were carried out. Interviews with victims show how difficult it can be for women with pets or livestock to leave a violent relationship, and how the animals suffer as an abuser controls the victims by threatening or harming the animals.
|Photo credit: Alberta SPCA|
In addition, children often witness the animal cruelty – and in half of the situations it’s the child’s own pet that is threatened or harmed.
To address this situation, the Alberta SPCA is working with many other agencies to help both animal and human victims of domestic violence. A major goal of the partnership, known as the Alberta Alliance for the Safety of Animals and People (AASAP), is to provide a province-wide pet safe-keeping network for family violence victims while they are in emergency shelters.
AASAP includes professionals from law enforcement, social services, veterinary services, health, animal welfare, women’s shelters, legal education and other communities.
AASAP wants to start a pilot project in the Edmonton region, with the hope that it can expand to the whole province.
This will involve hiring a coordinator to take calls from human services professionals and match the pets with a volunteer network of clinics, shelters and foster homes. Working out of the offices of one of the partner agencies, the coordinator will also maintain a database of volunteers and ensure that adequate records are maintained. After a year, the pilot project will be assessed and an expanded program will be designed based on lessons learned; the pilot project is also anticipated to demonstrate the need to prospective funders.
|Photo credit: Alberta SPCA|
This initiative will have direct benefits to numerous individuals in need:
· Domestic violence victims who would be able to leave violent situations to seek safety for themselves, knowing that their pets will be kept safe and cared for.
· Children of domestic violence victims who will also be reassured knowing that their pets are safe.
· Human services professionals – social workers, police, women’s shelter staff – who are often forced to scramble to find accommodations for pets of victims.
· The animals themselves will be kept safe from abuse and neglect.
To find out more, please visit: http://www.fieldlawcommunityfund.com/ideas/pet-safekeeping-for-domestic-violence-victims/
Team Toby appreciates the work Alberta SPCA and the AASAP is doing to help individuals and animals in need. Thank you for sharing your project with us. Together, we can make a PAWsitive difference!
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