SAFETY PLAN FOR PETS
If you are in an abusive relationship that is also a threat to pets in your home, you should develop a plan to move them to safety. It is advisable that you leave with your pet, if at all possible. The following are safety measures are suggested. They are not a guarantee of safety or a substitute for legal or other professional counsel.
- If you plan on getting a protective order, contact your State Attorney General for information and ask if pets are covered under the order. Animal Law lists states that include pets in protective orders, however, you should verify with your state Attorney General’s office.
- If you cannot take your pet with you, ask a trusted friend or family member if they will care for your pet. It would be best if the abuser does not know this person.
- If a family member or friend is not able to help, call your local domestic violence shelter, animal rescue group, no-kill shelter, veterinarian, doggie day care or boarding establishment and ask if they provide shelter for pets of domestic violence. If not, ask if they can refer you to an organization that does. The Animal Welfare Institute provides a zip code searchable directory of safe havens for pets.
- Make sure your pet is current on all vaccinations. Almost all veterinary clinics, shelters and kennels require proof of current vaccinations.
- Know your pet’s hiding place(s) in your home so you can quickly retrieve him/her and leave in case of an emergency.
- Gather and keep the following in a safe place, unknown to the abuser, if possible:
- Your pets’ belongings (favorite toys, collars leashes, bedding, bowls, grooming supplies, carriers).
- Ownership papers and ID tags. ID tags should not have your address on it. Consider engraving the number to a trusted friend/family member or your vet on the tag.
- Vaccination and medical records. These will also help establish ownership if you have not done so already.
- A photo and information sheet with feeding schedules, food, medication schedules, medical
conditions, preferences, behavioral issues and any other information a care giver should know about.
- Another option to consider is placing your pet for adoption. It is a difficult decision that only you can make, but it is important to be mindful of what is best for your pet. Leaving an abusive relationship often comes with a great deal of uncertainty and limited options. Many shelters and housing communities have breed and weight restrictions or do not accept pets at all. If you are renting a new home, a pet deposit will most likely be required and that can be very expensive. Knowing your pet will be in a loving and stable home can help to make the decision to leave your abusive situation easier.
No matter where your pet goes, the location should be kept secret. The abuser may want to try and recover the pet in order to intimidate or regain control over you and your children.
Be sure to establish a safety plan for yourself and your children, in addition to being informed on domestic violence and stalking. You can also refer to these resources for animal safety for more information on animal rights and safety.