Safe Pet Program
What is SafePet?
Many survivors of intimate partner violence will not leave their abuser if they cannot take their pet(s) with them to safety. Our SafePet program removes a significant barrier for these women and men: we care for their pet(s) until the survivor is stabilized and safe. For survivors who are unable to find a trusted family member, friend, or co-worker, to care for their pet(s), SafePet can literally save lives.
Link T.O. is part of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association’s SafePet Network.
How does the program work?
Link T.O.'s confidential SafePet veterinarians provide assistance by serving as a neutral, secret location where the pet owner can drop-off her/his pet when leaving their abuser.
The veterinarian completes a health and behavioural exam, and administers any needed vaccinations to the animal. The identities of the pet’s owner and of the SafePet foster are kept strictly confidential for the security and well-being of all involved.
Our foster picks the animal up from the confidential vet clinic and cares for the pet for up to one year.
Once the survivor is re-established in a safe environment, she/he is reunited with her/his pet(s).
Why the need?
Did you know that survivors of domestic violence are much less likely to leave their abuser if they cannot bring their pets with them to safety?
A 2004 study of Calgary-area domestic violence and animal abuse indicates that 56% of pet-owning women seeking refuge in women’s shelters reported that their abuser had threatened or had harmed their pet. Of those women with children and pets, 65% believed the children were aware of the abuse, and impacted by it.
Through the use of threats and violence, abusers use these pets as “hostages” in order to force their victims to stay. Unfortunately, domestic violence shelters in the G.T.A. are not currently able to house animals, and one of the goals of Link T.O. is to assist and fill this gap in sheltering.
"The program is brilliant and kept our family (children and pet) together.
Thank you for helping to care for [our cat] during this traumatic time of
- SafePet client, 2018 -