For survivors of domestic violence, safety for themselves and their children is always top of mind. But it doesn’t end there. Another family member is often high on the survivor’s list of concerns – the family pet.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says 71 percent of pet owners who enter domestic violence shelters report their abuser threatening, harming, or even killing family pets. And about one-third of women experiencing abuse, who don’t have children, will delay seeking shelter, because they’re concerned for their pet’s safety, according to the NCADV.
Survivors of domestic violence already consider so many different factors when deciding if/when it’s safe to leave the relationship; we know this is a challenging time. If circumstances allow it, survivors can include pets in their safety planning process, so the whole family finds their new beginning together. Hubbard House recommends considering the following:
- Establish a paper trail showing your ownership of the pet, including through a pet license, vet records, etc. in your name.
- Know a place you can bring your pet on short notice if you need to leave the home. This could include a vet, friend, or resource through your local domestic violence shelter.
- Maintain a “go bag” for your pet, including food, medicine, vaccine records, a leash and similar items. The bag should be stored in a location that is easy to access, but not somewhere the abuser will see it.
- Keep the phone number for a 24-hour emergency vet on hand, in case your pet needs immediate medical care.
Hubbard House understands how important pets are to survivors. Through quality community partners, the agency provides safe housing for the pets of survivors during any shelter stay. Pets receive great nutrition and basic veterinary support, and the survivor can visit if they are safe to do so and circumstances allow. The goal is to keep bonds strong until a safe reunion is possible.
Survivor, we’re here for you, to help you safety plan for every member of your family, furry family included. Call us 24/7 to learn more about how we help. You are not alone.
Contact Hubbard House’s 24/7 Hotline at (904) 354-3114 or 24/7 Textline at (904) 210-3698.