Leaving An Abusive Relationship-How To Find Help For Pets


Last week I saw call for help on a cat Facebook page, a female domestic violence victim was looking for somebody to foster or shelter her cat as she was moving into a women’s refuge. Without a doubt, these refuges save lives, however, many are unable to accommodate pets.

In this article we hope to provide you with places to go if you are in a domestic situation and need to find shelter for a pet.

  • Over 70% of domestic abuse victims claim that their violent partner also hurt family pets.
  • Domestic and family violence is the leading cause of homelessness in Australian women and children.
  • One in four children in Australia are exposed to domestic violence.
  • One in three women in Australia have experienced physical violence after the age of 15.
  • One in five women in Australia have experienced sexual violence
  • One in four women in Australia has experienced sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner.
  • More than 62% of Australian households own a pet. Of these, 38% are dog owners and 29% are cat owners.

The last few statistics alone show how prevalent domestic violence is, and with such a high rate of pet ownership, many domestic pets are also at risk. Up to 40% of domestic violence victims remain where they are because they refuse to leave their pet behind. If an abuser is able to physically and emotionally harm a partner, they are just as likely to harm a pet, and if the partner does escape, leaving animals behind, there is a good chance they will become the next target.

Violent partners can use abuse on pets as a way to control their victims, to show them that they are not afraid to use violence. Pets are at risk because they are an easy target to violent people. They are also are at risk because hurting a pet is an easy way to hurt the victim. None of us want to see our pets harmed.

Warning: Violent partners are usually controlling, which includes the use of technology to monitor the victims movements, web-searches, and phone conversations. Take care when looking for help and if possible, ask a trusted friend or family member to assist, to avoid being caught.

Where to go for help:


The RSPCA in Australia offers Safe Beds For Pets which is a service which provides temporary accommodation and emergency veterinary care for animals of domestic violence victims. This enables the victim to escape to safety and ensures pets are removed from the situation and cared for until the victim is back on her feet.


I spoke to a friend who manages a women’s refuge who said that many veterinary practices are on board and ready to step in and temporarily house pets from domestic violence situations.


If you have a purebred cat, contact the breeder to see if they can temporarily board the cat while you are in a refuge. A large number of cat breeders state in their contract that if the cat can not care for the cat, then it must be returned to the breeder.

Local shelters:

Not all shelters in Australia are run by the RSPCA. Some are council run and some are run by groups or individuals. So even if you don’t have an RSPCA close to you, try local shelters to see if they can temporarily house your pet or find a foster.

Rescue groups:

Ask on Facebook rescue groups if they know of anybody who is willing to foster your pet until you are in a position to take them back. If you have a purebred cat, look for breed specific groups (this is where I saw the post mentioned above).

Boarding catteries:

Privately run boarding catteries may be able to take in a pet in an emergency situation.


Australia White Ribbon (Australia)

1800RESPECT (Australia): 1800 737 732

RSPCA Community Programs helpline: (02) 9748 4408

24hr Domestic Violence Line (NSW): 1800 65 64 63

Lucy’s Project (Lismore)

The Northern Domestic Violence Service (Adelaide, South Australia)

(08) 8255 3622

Bendigo Animal Welfare & Community Services (Bendigo, Victoria)

0417 382 741


Emergency phone: 000

Canada Assaulted Women’s Helpline

Interval House of Ottawa

Pet Protect Guelph

Safe Pet Program

Emergency phone: 911

United Kingdom The Links Group Dog’s Trust Freedom Project

Cats Protection Paws Project

Paws For Kids

Emergency phone: 999



United States of America

Safe Place For Pets (US)

RedRover (US)

Urban Research Institute (New York)

Safe Haven’s Mapping Project (US)

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Phone: 1-800-799-7233

Emergency phone: 911


Please email me if you know of additional resources to add to the page.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here