Real Words. Real Impact.
"I'm so appreciative of the program as a whole. I've started to feel like an actual person again, gain some confidence back, move forward in therapy and started re-building my life. I couldn't have done that without you and all of your hard work."
* Names removed to protect anonymity
The decision to leave
or to stay...
Research shows that 47% of survivors will delay leaving their abuser, or not leave at all, if they cannot take their pet with them to safety. Further, 56% delay leaving their abuser for fear of their pet's safety, and two-thirds of survivors indicate that animal abuse had a significant impact on their decision to leave their abuser.
Most shelters do not accept pets, which then forces survivors to decide between their own safety and that of their beloved companion animals. Of those survivors who flee to a shelter, 60% are forced to leave their pet behind with their abuser. One third considered returning to their abuser to protect their pet.*
This is where SafePet Ontario comes in. We bridge a significant gap in the gender-based violence sector by providing pet-safekeeping for survivors of family violence and human trafficking. By caring for their pets, SafePet Ontario ensures that survivors can escape their abuser and access supports and safe housing sooner.
Pets are family. Abusive parties know this and use the strength of the human-animal bond against their victims. Coercive and controlling behaviours such as not allowing the victim to feed their pet or go to the vet, physically or sexually abusing the pet, threatening to harm or kill the pet, or threatening to give the animal away, are all examples of how abusers use pets as part of their campaign of abuse.
This occurs in family violence, intimate partner violence, and in human trafficking. If there are children in the home, the consequences of these types of abuse are truly inter-generational.
SafePet Ontario, we believe that survivors of family violence and human trafficking should never be forced to choose between their own safety and that of their companion animals. Pets provide emotional support and unconditional love, and this is a bond that most survivors are not willing to break-- even if it means they must stay in a dangerous situation.
Our mission is to help survivors find safety by helping their pets find safety too.
If you are experiencing family violence or human trafficking and need a safe place for your pet(s), this program is for you.
*All statistics provided by Dr. Amy Fitzgerald, "The Intersection of Animal Maltreatment and Intimate Partner Violence in Canada: Findings from Recent and Ongoing Research." University of Windsor.
Our Impact in Numbers
We receive approximately 35 requests for our pet-safekeeping service every month.
40 pets in care
At any given time, we have around 40 pets in our care, with an average stay of 8 months.
$700 per animal
We spend about $700 on each pet in our program to cover medications, vet care, food, and pet supplies.
150 foster families
SPO has over 150 carefully-screened pet foster families throughout the province.
Our Purpose & Story
SafePet Ontario is a registered charity dedicated to assisting Ontario's survivors of family violence and human trafficking, and their pets. Our organization has existed since 2017, and our mission is two-fold: we work directly with those facing gender based violence or abuse by providing pet-safekeeping options, and we educate professionals and the public about the "link" among child abuse, animal abuse, elder abuse, and intimate partner violence.
Our work is founded on a body of academic literature that identifies a "link" among intimate partner violence, child abuse, animal abuse, and elder abuse. Research shows that these forms of abuse tend to co-occur in families, and argues that they cannot be addressed independently from one another. All vulnerable members of a family system—including pets—must be given the opportunity for safety and security.
We regularly provide training at the Ontario Police College, Toronto Police College, and regional Victim Services, and we work closely with veterinary clinics throughout the province, to educate about the role of animal abuse in gender-based and family violence.
Donate to SafePet
As a registered charity, we rely heavily on the generosity of our supporters for funding. As we expand our reach throughout the province, we are even more grateful for your ongoing donations.
Learn about where your money goes, and see how you can contribute to saving lives in Ontario.
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