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Safe Havens for Animals

The Humane Society of the United States

In many cases, family violence victims delay leaving their abusive homes out of fear for their pets' safety. Unfortunately, this fear is well-founded. All too often, batterers punish victims for leaving by abusing or killing their pets. And most domestic violence shelters can't accept pets because of health regulations, space limitations, additional costs, and potential liabilities.

Studies indicate that animal abuse is often present in family violence relationships. In response, animal shelters, animal care and control agencies, veterinary clinics, and private boarding kennels have begun partnering with domestic violence shelters to provide temporary housing for victims' pets. While we're calling these programs Safe Havens for Animals™, they may also be known by a variety of names—such as Safe Haven, Safe Pet Program, or Animal Safehouse, among others. Overall, their central mission is the same: to offer a life-saving alternative for family violence victims and their companion animals.

These programs can also provide valuable information for victims, including safety planning advice, and they can educate other human service agencies—such as police departments and social services agencies—about the animal cruelty/family violence connection. As these programs are developed in communities, fewer victims will have to choose between their pets and their safety.

To see contact information for programs in your neighborhood, visit The HSUS's online directory of Safe Havens for Animals programs.

If you operate such a program and would like to be part of the online directory, e-mail us at firststrike@humanesociety.org and include the name of your program and organization, contact person, phone number, mailing address, e-mail address, and website.

To learn how to implement a temporary sheltering program for animals of family violence victims, download The HSUS's resource, Starting a Safe Havens for Animals™ Program.