It's time to get the word out about the exciting work we're doing at Link T.O.. So, please take a look at our Press Release below and spread the word! If you have any questions or want to talk more about what we do, please contact us at any time!
Link Coalition Toronto’s Ground-Breaking SafePet Program Helps Women Escape Domestic Violence Faster
[For Immediate Release]
TORONTO, May 16, 2018 • Link Coalition Toronto is seeking volunteer "foster families" for its innovative new SafePet program, which provides safe homes for the pets of women who want to leave abusive situations. None of the city's Violence Against Women shelters can accept pets, and the prospect of leaving a beloved animal behind can create a significant barrier to escape. The recently launched SafePet program removes this barrier, giving abused women more freedom to take action.
“Animal cruelty and other forms of family violence are closely connected,” said Dr. Hayley Glaholt, co-founder of Link Coalition Toronto. “Many women won’t leave if they can’t take their pets with them, because their abuser will use the pets as hostages. They feel trapped if they have nowhere safe to bring their animals. By getting their pets to the safety of a foster home, we’re helping these women escape domestic violence faster.”
The first of its kind in Toronto, Link T.O. raises awareness of the “link” among four types of family violence: domestic violence, animal abuse, child abuse, and elder abuse. Since its start in December 2017, Link T.O.’s SafePet program has been able to support survivors of intimate partner violence, arranging fostering for several pets to date. Abusers use threats and violence towards pets to control their human victims. Exposed to this animal abuse, children in the home often put themselves in harm’s way to protect family pets. Or, children may become abusers themselves. This ongoing exposure to cruelty has long-lasting detrimental effects on children’s psychological well-being. Link T.O. educates Torontonians about this interconnected problem, and helps survivors and their pets escape violence—together.
From a recent national survey of women staying at Violence Against Women shelters:
56% delayed leaving their abuser due to fear for their pet’s safety;
47% said they likely would have left earlier if they could have taken their pet with them; and,
33% considered returning to their abuser because he had their pet.
[Amy Fitzgerald, Betty Barrett and Rochelle Stevenson. 2017. "Animal maltreatment as a risk marker of more frequent and severe forms of intimate partner violence." Journal of Interpersonal Violence.]
“We began receiving requests the moment we launched, before we had done any public outreach. Domestic abuse survivors and case workers have found us on our website, on social media, and through word of mouth,” said Yvonne Tang, co-founder of Link T.O. “The first shelter we paired with was Interval House, and then we expanded to two others—Ernestine’s and Red Door Family Shelter—within months. The need for our program is immense.”
As their SafePet program expands, Link T.O. will continue to build a coalition of family services professionals in Toronto. They will broaden support and educate about the “link” among domestic violence, child abuse, animal abuse, and elder abuse.
For further information and to arrange media interviews, contact:
Dr. Hayley Rose Glaholt
About Link Coalition Toronto:
Link T.O. was established in 2017 by a group of three women. We are a registered non-profit organization that aims to end the abuse of humans and animals in Toronto by educating community health workers, law enforcement officials, animal care professionals, and the public about the interconnectedness of all types of violence, and by establishing programs that provide direct assistance to those who experience abuse. Our SafePet Program coordinates foster care for the pets of survivors fleeing situations of domestic violence. Nearly 90% of abused women in shelters across Canada report that their pets were also abused. Many of these women delay leaving their abusers because they fear for their pet's life. Our SafePet program allows survivors—and their pets—to escape violence and abuse faster.