Many victims of domestic violence are concerned about what will happen to their pets if they separate from their abusive partner. According to A Safe Place for Pets, some 65% of victims are unable to escape domestic violence because they fear what will happen to their beloved dogs or cats if they leave them behind.
Unfortunately, many domestic shelters do not accept pets. However, some domestic shelters are changing their policies creating space for pets or reaching out to area pet shelters to house animals for victims seeking services. If you are in an abusive relationship and are concerned about your pets, there are steps you can take to prepare to leave.
You can start by contacting family and friends or your vet about temporary care for your pet. If that is not an option, considering calling your local domestic shelter or animal shelter directly to inquire about safekeeping of pets in domestic violence situations. You can inquire anonymously or as if you are asking on behalf of a friend if It makes it easier to take the first step. Keep in mind, however, that agencies and employees that serve domestic violence victims tend to understand how difficult it is to make a break from an abusive situation and will help you try to overcome obstacles that stand in your way.
You can also visit the Safe Havens Mapping Project for Pets of Domestic Violence online to view available shelters in your area. The institution allows victims and domestic violence agencies to locate shelters (by zip code) that will accept pets so they are not left behind. If you do not see shelters listed in your area, consider calling various places listed for resources closer to home.
Because your abusive partner may insist that the pets stay, often to exert control, it is a good idea to take steps to prove ownership of your pets. This may be proof of vaccinations and licenses made in your name – if you don’t have them you can get them or make changes to the record to show you are indeed the owner.
Survivors of domestic violence and stalking can request a court order – a protective or restraining order – to keep their abusers from continuing to hurt or threaten them. These orders may be extended to the family pet. Contact an experienced domestic violence attorney or inquire at your local domestic violence shelter for help.
If you are a victim of domestic violence and are in imminent danger, call the police immediately. If you would like more information regarding domestic violence services in the Lake county area, contact A Safe Place, a provider of services to assist victims of domestic violence. Attorney Michael Strauss is involved in protecting victims of domestic abuse and is vice president of A Safe Place. If you need domestic violence help, we encourage you to contact the domestic violence attorneys of Schlesinger & Strauss for assistance at 847-680-4970.