for safepet clients
PLEASE NOTE: We are not an emergency service. We answer client requests Monday to Friday, 9-5. If you need immediate help, please call 911.
We accept clients into our SafePet program in two ways, with a third option for those who do not live in the Greater Toronto Area :
If you are staying at a Violence Against Women shelter or a transitional shelter, or;
If you are referred to us by a third party ("Third Party Referral").
We only communicate with clients via email. Therefore please ONLY use an email address that your abuser does not have access to. If you know or think that your abuser has access to your email, please have your caseworker or Third Party Referee provide their email address so we can communicate safely.
If you need our help, please follow the steps below.
OPTION 1: Do you need to stay at a shelter?
If so, call Central Intake at (416) 338-4766 to see if you can secure a spot at a GTA-area shelter. Once you have secured a spot, fill out THIS INTAKE FORM (submit one form for EACH of your pets) and include the name and contact info of your shelter caseworker. [Please scroll down to read how to include pets in your safety planning.]
As of January 2020, the North York Women's Shelter is allowing pets onsite at their shelter. To see if they have space, call the Assaulted Women's Helpline and tell them that you would like to be placed there if possible. NYWS accepts cis women and trans women. [If you are in Durham Region, Bethesda House also allows pets onsite.]
OPTION 2: Are you not able to stay at a shelter?
If so, we accept SafePet clients (survivors of intimate partner violence with pets in need of fostering) via Third Party Referral. Please fill out THIS INTAKE FORM (submit one form for EACH of your pets) and include the name and contact info for your Third Party Referee.
Referrals can be made by many professionals and organizations, such as (but not limited to):
Doctors and nurses; hospital support workers
Therapists, counselors, social workers
Police officers and paramedics
Case workers from community support organizations
The Barbra Schlifer Clinic
The Assaulted Women's Helpline
The Toronto Rape Crisis Centre
Anduhyaun / NWRCT
If you have a spot at a shelter: Once you have submitted your Intake Form (see above), we will see if we have an appropriate foster for your pet(s). If we do, we will coordinate with you and/or shelter caseworker via email about what you need to do next. This will involve dropping your pet(s) off at a confidential location and answering some questions about their medical and behavioural history.
If you are referred by a third party: Once you have submitted your Intake Form (see above), we will see if we have an appropriate foster for your pet(s). If we do, we will coordinate with you and/or your Third Party Referee via email about what you need to do next. This will involve dropping your pet(s) off at a confidential location and answering some questions about their medical and behavioural history.
*** DO NOT LEAVE ANY WRITTEN NOTES ABOUT THE VET /
SAFEPET program BEHIND WHEN YOU LEAVE YOUR ABUSER ***
Your pet will be fostered by Link Coalition Toronto while you reside at the shelter / stay in a safe place. You will not be able to visit your pet(s) while they are in the foster home. This is to maintain your safety and confidentiality, and that of our foster families. We will send you updates with photos of your pet(s) so that you know that they are doing well. If you have questions about your pet(s), you can email us at any time: firstname.lastname@example.org
When you are ready to be reunited with your pet, let us know immediately via email (email@example.com). Arrangements will then be made to reunite you with your pet(s) as soon as possible.
For your safety, it is highly recommended that you clear your browser’s history after each visit to our website.
Follow these steps for whichever browser you're using:
including pets in safety planning
If you’re able to prepare for your pet’s departure, try to have the following pet items in a safe place where your abuser won’t find them. It may be safer to make copies of originals so that your abuser doesn't notice that originals are missing/gone/moved.
Pet’s vaccination and medical records
License / purchase receipt that proves you own your animal
A small bag of pet food (dry kibble, if possible)
Medication, if any
Bowls, bedding, toys, grooming supplies, a favourite blanket, etc.
Identification tag without your home address but with a phone number of a trusted friend or your veterinarian
Cat carriers (unconfined cats can easily get scared and escape. If you don’t have a carrier for your cat, a pillowcase can work in an emergency)
A photo and an information sheet on food and feeding schedules, medical conditions, medications and schedules, likes and dislikes, and any possible behaviour problems to give to a temporary caretaker
Before leaving make sure you:
Find a safe place ahead of time. First, ask friends and family that you trust who might be willing to take your pets temporarily. If they are not able to, or if you don't have someone who you trust, call one of our partner SafePet shelters (listed above) and see if they have space for you
Know your pet’s hiding spot so you don’t have to spend time looking for them in the case of emergency
The pet’s location should always be kept secret in case your abuser decides to try to take control of your pet in order to take control of you
Adapted from the Making the Connection: Protecting Your Pet from Domestic Violence, by the HSUS. Copyright The Humane Society of the United States and the Violence Prevention Program, Calgary Humane Society.
*From the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies website