for safe pet clients
if you need our help, please follow these steps:
Do you need to stay at a shelter?
If so, call the 24-hour crisis lines for our partner shelters, and/or call the Assaulted Women's Helpline to see if you can secure a spot at a GTA-area shelter. Tell the worker who answers the phone that you have a pet you cannot leave behind, but you must leave for safety now. Tell them you would like to use the SafePet Program through Link Coalition Toronto. [Please scroll down to read how to include pets in your safety planning.]
Ernestine's Women's Shelter: (416) 746-3701
Interval House: (416) 924-1491
Julliette's Place: (416) 724-1316
Red Door Shelter: (416) 423-0310
YWCA Arise Shelter: (416) 929-3316
Assaulted Women's Helpline: (416) 863-0511
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. Email us (at ; we do not accept phone calls) and let us know that you would like to use the SafePet program. And, tell your referee that you have a pet you cannot leave behind, but you must leave for safety now. Tell them you would like to use the SafePet Program through Link Coalition Toronto. [Please scroll down to read how to include pets in your safety planning.]
Referrals can be made by many professionals and organizations, such as (but not limited to):
Doctors and nurses
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
If you have a spot at a shelter: ask your caseworker to email us directly at email@example.com. We will coordinate with them about what you need to do next. We will give you the phone number of a confidential veterinarian, and will ask you to call the veterinarian, who will then request information about your pet.
If you are referred by a third party: ask your referral source to email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We do not accept phone calls. Once we have connected with your referee, we will explain to you how our program works, and give you the phone number of a confidential veterinarian. We will ask you to call the veterinarian, who will then request information about your pet.
You will drop your pet(s) off at the confidential veterinarian's office and you will then go to a VAW shelter or another safe place.
*** DO NOT LEAVE ANY WRITTEN NOTES ABOUT THE VET / SAFEPET
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.
When you are ready to be reunited with your pet, let the confidential vet clinic (where you dropped off your pet) know immediately. Also, contact us via email to tell us when you would like to have your pet back. Arrangements will then be made to reunite you with your pet(s).
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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