What are safe havens?
As used here, “safe havens” refers to the sheltering services available in an area that assist victims of domestic violence with placing their companion animals out of harm's way so that they may seek safety for themselves. Safe havens operate differently from community to community. Some rely on networks of foster care homes or are allowed to use the additional kennel space of a local humane society or veterinarian. In some cases domestic violence shelters house victims and pets together, while some are facilities that house only the pets on-site. They can be independent nonprofit organizations or formal partnerships between domestic violence agencies and animal agencies or groups.
Depending on the local arrangement, family members may be able to visit their pets while they are in safe-keeping. How long a pet may stay in a safe haven again will depend on the local arrangement—some stays are much shorter than others. Confidentiality of the pet’s location is highly guarded in order to protect the pets and their family members.
Where are they?
Until now, there were only partial listings of safe havens for pets. AWI's ongoing Safe Havens Mapping Project addresses this gap with the development of an integrated, comprehensive state-by-state listing of sheltering services for the animals of domestic violence victims. The entities included in the listing, which is subject to ongoing refinement and updating, either provide sheltering services for the animals of domestic violence victims, have a relationship with an entity that does, or provide referrals to such facilities.
How could our community start one?
The manner in which safe havens for pets develop depends upon the capacity and best thinking of the local community. For a comprehensive review of how to start a safe haven for pets, please see:
- Ascione, F.R. (2000). Safe havens for pets: Guidelines for programs sheltering pets for women who are battered.
- Allie Phillips (2012). Sheltering Animals & Families Together (SAF-T)™ and the SAF-T Start-Up Manual PDF
Considerations for victims of domestic violence and those who help them
Can I include my pet(s) in a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)?
Yes. Twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have laws to ensure that victims of domestic violence can include their pets in restraining orders.
Even if your state does not have a specific provision, most state TROs contain language that gives courts discretion to permit additional orders. For example, a court can order that pets be included in a TRO as they do for the temporary care of children or possession of property. Conditions bonds also can include pets. And a TRO can authorize law enforcement to assist with the removal of a pet from the home.
Funding for Safe Havens for Pets Programs or Individuals in Need of Safe Havens for Their Pets
AWI has been able to identify a limited number of funding sources for individuals who need a safe place for their companion animals, or for groups interested in providing a safe havens for pets program in their area. There may be other sources of funding not listed here; if so, please contact AWI at email@example.com so we can add that information to our list.
- American Kennel Club Humane Fund (general)
- Amie's Place Foundation “Offers support for programs to help keep people and pets together during times of crisis” (general)
- Veterinary Care Foundation (for vets only)
- Veterinary Care Charitable Fund (for vets only)
- Marion Doughtery Safe Haven Fund (NYC only)
- Red Rover (general). Two types of grants: 1) to cover temporary boarding and/or veterinary care costs to enable a victim to remove pets to safety 2) to cover start-up costs for a domestic violence shelter seeking to house pets on-site