Helping pets and people in family violence situations

RSPCA South Australia is committed to working with the community and all organisations responding to domestic and family violence to help families and their pets find safety.

Substantial evidence exists worldwide documenting the connection between animal abuse and domestic violence. This includes recognition of the fact that:

  • Pet abuse often occurs before and during human abuse in domestic violence situations.
  • A major reason for the abuse of pets by perpetrators is to control women and children.
  • Many women will delay leaving domestic violence situations because they cannot make arrangements for the safety of their pets.
  • Significant trauma is experienced by  women and children witnessing the threat or actual abuse of pets.
  • Pets are often injured and sometimes killed when living in human domestic violence situations.
  • Family pets provide positive relationships for women and children helping to improve their physical and emotional well being.

In response to this evidence, RSPCA has established the Safe Kennels DV Project.

Key objectives of our Safe Kennels Domestic Violence (DV) Project

  1. Develop effective collaborative working relationships with key organisations responding to domestic and family violence in South Australia.
  2. Develop improved information resources for women escaping domestic violence and training resources for domestic violence workers on matters to do with ensuring the safety of pets.
  3. Ensure all RSPCA internal policies and procedures allow for effective referral to Safe Kennel emergency accommodation and related programs.
  4. Encourage the development of foster care networks outside of RSPCA’s shelter environment for pets impacted by domestic and family violence.
  5. Explore the potential and, where possible, support initiatives for pets to remain with women and children escaping domestic violence from the outset.
  6. Advocate for an increase in pet-friendly rental accommodation.

Practical information for keeping pets safe in domestic violence situations

Need someone else to care for your pet while you escape a domestic violence situation?

We recommended you keep the following information with you:

  • A photo of your pet, and a document containing their name, age and feeding schedule, what they normally eat, details of any medical conditions, their temperament, likes and dislikes (including whether they can be boarded with children/other animals), whether they live indoors/outdoors, etc.
  • Something to prove you own the pet (for example: registration or vet bills in your name).
  • Details of your pet’s current veterinary clinic alongside any copies of medical records, proof of vaccination records and/or microchip details.
Plan for keeping your pet safe and where it might go if temporary care is required

We recommend being prepared with the following:

  • Keep your pet’s leash, collar, ID tags and carrier cage at hand.
  • Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date and that you have proof of vaccination.
  • Make sure your pet is microchipped and that your microchip contact details are up to date. (Learn how to change your details here.)
  • Speak with family and friends to see if they would be willing to provide temporary boarding. In some cases local councils, community groups or social workers may be able to help you. Alternatively temporary pet sitters often advertise online on websites such as PetCloud.

Contact details for more help and support

If you are in a domestic violence situation and are seeking assistance, please call domestic violence helplines on 1800 737 732 or 1800 800 098.  In an emergency, ring 000.

If you wish to discuss emergency accommodation for your pet, call RSPCA South Australia on 1300 47 7722.

All other enquiries regarding our Safe Kennels DV project can be directed to RSPCA’s Animal Welfare Advocate Rebekah Eyers. Click here to send Rebekah an email.

RSPCA South Australia acknowledges and thanks the Government of South Australia for supporting this project. Supported by a grant from the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.