Our SafePet Program
is here for you.
If you are a survivor of family violence or human trafficking, we are here to help.
To apply to use our program, please follow the steps below. There are also "frequently asked questions" you can review before applying. Everything you should
need to learn about our program is on this page.
Please note: we are not an emergency service.
We will respond to your application as quickly as we can—usually within 24 hours.
Not eligible for our program? Click here for more options.
How to Apply
Choose your referee.
You will need to provide the name and email address of a professional who can confirm that you are a survivor of family violence or human trafficking. This can be a caseworker, nurse, police officer, counselor, doctor, Violence Against Women worker, etc.
Fill out one Application for each pet you would like to enroll in our program.
The Application can be found below by clicking the "Fill out an Intake Form" button. It will take you approximately 10 minutes to fill out one Application.
Check your email.
We will email you and your referee within 48 hours to acknowledge your Application. If you do not have a safe / secure email address to use, please use the email of someone close to you that you trust, and let them know we will be contacting them.
Drop off your pet(s).
When we have found a foster for your pet(s), we will arrange a time and place at which you can drop off your pet. Please do not share the name or address of this drop off location with anyone. Once you have dropped off your pet(s), our volunteer will pick them up and bring them to their temporary home.
When you are ready, reunite with your pet(s).
We can foster them for up to one year, and we will provide veterinary care for them if they are ill. Let us know when you are ready to take them back, and we will arrange a date and time for you to pick them up.
Ready to Apply?
Survivors: submit your application below (or have your caseworker submit it on your behalf).
If you have questions about our program,
please use our contact form or check out
the FAQ section below.
Caseworkers / law enforcement / health professionals: please visit our "How it Works" page to learn about referring clients to our program.
You can submit Applications on behalf of your clients using the green button (left).
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use the SafePet program?
If you are a survivor of family violence (intimate partner abuse / violence, domestic violence, elder abuse, parental abuse) or human trafficking, and you have a referee who can confirm this, you are eligible for our program.
We accept clients of all genders and ages from across Ontario. We accept all kinds of animals - pets (including reptiles, etc.), service animals, support animals, and farm animals.
There is no cost to use our program. It is free of charge.
What if I am not eligible for your program?
You will be eligible for our program if you are either staying at a Violence Against Women shelter in Ontario, or if you have a referral from a professional who can confirm that you are a survivor of: 1. family abuse, 2. elder abuse, 3. intimate partner / dating abuse, or 4. human trafficking.
If you are not a survivor of one of these four circumstances, please take a look here for additional options. These will help guide you in your next steps to find a safe spot for your pet.
What if you can't find a foster for my pet?
We have many clients applying to use our program, and unfortunately we cannot always help everyone who needs our service. Also, some animals are more difficult to place than others.
We will work with you to figure out another plan for your pet if we cannot find a foster. Please take a look here to learn about other options for you and your pet.
Can I visit my pet while he / she is in the program?
No. For your safety and privacy, we do not allow visits. However, we will send you photos and updates on your pet every three to four weeks. The family fostering your pet will not know your name or identify, and you will not know theirs. We will also change your pet's tags, if they have them, to ensure that your privacy is respected.
What if my pet gets sick while she / he is with you?
When you enroll your pet into our program, you will sign a document saying that SafePet Ontario is legally allowed to provide your pet with veterinary care. If your pet gets sick, we will arrange for them to see a veterinarian. If your pet is very sick, we will include you in decisions regarding their care plan. You will not have to pay for veterinary care while your pet is in our program.
Will you euthanize / "put down" my pet?
No. We would never euthanize a pet unless it was an extreme emergency and they were in significant pain, and it was recommended by a veterinarian. In all serious cases, we will try to get in touch with you multiple times before making any decisions. Euthanasia is always a last resort, and we would never make that decision for a pet unless there are no other options available to us.
I have multiple pets. Can they all be placed in the same foster home?
We will try our best to place bonded animals together, but this is not always possible. If you have multiple animals, please let us know if there are pairs that are very bonded and must stay together. It is difficult for us to place more than two animals in one home.
My pet is not vaccinated / spayed / neutered. Can I still use the program?
Yes. Our application form asks you to upload any medical records you have for your pet (that you can safely find). If your pet is not vaccinated, we will have that done while they are in our program. We will also ask you if we can spay / neuter your pet while they are in our program, free of charge to you.
Who will be taking care of my pet? How can I trust them?
We choose our foster families very carefully. They all have police records checks, and they are all animal lovers who are experienced in caring for pets. We also make sure to place the right pet in the right home, and check in regularly with our fosters to see how they and their SafePet animals are doing.
My dog has bitten someone in the past. Does that make her / him ineligible for your program?
No. We deal with these issues on a case by case basis. If your dog has behavioural issues, we will discuss these with you and-- if we are able to find an appropriate foster home that is experienced with challenging dogs-- we will work closely with them and our dog behaviourist to make sure everyone stays safe.
How long can my pet stay in your program?
We can foster your pet for up to one year. We will check in with you regularly, and that is a chance for you to let us know how you are doing, and when you think you will be able to reunite with your pet. If the one-year mark approaches, we will discuss what options there are for you and your pet.
If I am ready to reunite with my pet, how long will it take to get them back?
We try to arrange reunions within one week, but since some pets are placed in cities different from where you live, it can take time to arrange transportation for them to get to you. Please give us as much of a "heads up" as possible when you are ready to reunite, and we will work as fast as we can to make it happen!
This map shows you all shelters in Canada, plus pet-friendly options for sheltering.
These VAW shelters allow pets onsite. Call the Assaulted Women's Helpline to get connected (866.863.0511)
North York Women's Shelter (Toronto)
Bethesda House (Durham Region)
Family Transition Place (Orangeville)
Their Bethlehem United Shelter provides long-term housing support for all genders, singles, and couples, with pets. Call call 311 or Central Intake at 416-338-4766, 1-877-338-3398 toll free.
THS's Urgent Care Program provides pet-fostering for people in crisis or transition.
This organization provides pet fostering for women staying at VAW shelters in Ottawa and surrounding areas
The OSPCA has limited emergency pet sheltering options; contact the location closest to you to discuss.
If you are a senior experiencing abuse or neglect, SafePet Ontario can foster your pet. You can also call this support line for additional resources (866.299.1011)
If you are at a shelter or are using 24-hour crisis services in Toronto, staff there can help you connect with free veterinary care using this program.
If you have a veterinarian for your pet, they can help you apply for funding to cover veterinary costs for your pet(s) if you are eligible.
This website can help you find pet-friendly options in the States and in Canada.
For American clients, this site will assist you in finding shelter in your state.