SafePet program helps keep pets safe while victims of abuse seek help

July 9, 2018
Article Source
CTV News

Research shows that more than half of victims of abuse say they delayed leaving their partners due to concern for their pets' safety, which is why an organization called SafePet Program is offering a free foster program to those using shelters in Toronto.

Many shelters offering support to victims of domestic abuse do not allow pets unless they are registered service animals. The SafePet program arranges foster homes for these pets, ensuring they are well taken care of while the victim receives the support they need.

SafePet is the flagship program of a non-profit called Link Coalition Toronto, an organization that educates others about the link between domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse and animal abuse.

Hayley Glaholt, the executive director of Link Coalition Toronto, said she learned of the connection between domestic violence and animal abuse while doing her master's degree in Boston.

"I knew that I wanted to start an organization like this at some point," she told CTV News Toronto. "I knew nothing like this existed in Toronto, so I took what I learned in the States and just got it started here, because I knew there was a need for it."

"We want women to know (that) if not having somewhere to take their pet is the reason to stay in an abusive situation, we can help them. We can remove that barrier for them."

SafePet currently has 15 volunteers who will foster pets while victims of domestic abuse are at a shelter. The animals are then returned to their owners once they are back on their feet.

"That bond between people and their pets is extremely powerful, and so many of our fosters just want to help because they know if it came to them and they had to make a decision between their safety and the safety of their pets, it's an impossible decision to make," Glaholt said.

Read more: SafePet program helps keep pets safe while victims of abuse seek help