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The Safe People Safe Pets Program

What is the Safe People Safe Pets program?

​​Safe People Safe Pets works to temporarily place animals while a victim of domestic abuse is leaving the home and in transition and does not have an alternative caretaker for the animal. We work with veterinarians, shelters and volunteer foster homes to provide a temporary safe home until the animal is able to be reclaimed.

Safe People Safe Pets also provides assistance and planning to people who are thinking of leaving an abusive home with an animal. Such planning includes ensuring that the animal is up-to-date on vaccinations and that the owner has all records (including license information, veterinary records, etc.) and any supplies, medication, or items the animal needs. Finding out as much as we can about the animal in advance can help us coordinate the most suitable temporary home.

Why is This Foster Program Needed?

Human victims will very often not leave an abusive relationship for fear that the animal(s) they would be forced to leave behind would be harmed. This is a common threat batterers use to keep their victims under their control and silent about the abuse.

We also know that children are often very attached to their pets and victims may find it hard to take their children away from them. The accessibility of facilities to temporarily house these animals for short periods of time and foster homes for longer periods is the primary part of this new program. These animals are often used as pawns -- or worse -- in the tangled negotiations of violent relationships.

Violence is not limited to people and often pets are threaten or injured by a partner as a way to control family members. An MSPCA survey showed that people who abused animals were five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people. Another survey, by the Humane Society of the United States, found at 91% of adult victims of violence and 73% of children describe incidents of animal abuse when they enter shelters.

To assess the need and potential demand for the services of this program in Massachusetts, the Link Up Education Network conducted a survey of domestic violence service providers. Of the respondents, 88% said that pet abuse or the threat of pet abuse is related to the victim’s ability/willingness to leave a violent relationship. And 96% stated that they thought more victims would leave a violent home if there were safe, viable alternatives for their pets. If a program existed, 100% of the service providers stated they would refer clients to such a program.

Because many domestic violence shelters do not accept pets, this program will help domestic violence victims plan for their pets when leaving their situation and provide temporary foster care if there are no other alternatives until the animal can be reunited with its owner.

  • If you need foster care, please have your advocate contact us.​

  • Volunteer. Are you interested in opening your home to a pet in need of safe, temporary care as his/her owner gathers the resources to leave a violent past behind?

  • Learn about other programs similar to Safe People Safe Pets

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