Animal Protection Line

One Family Welfare


Pet SafeKeeping Program

Help For Pet Owners Fleeing Family Violence

The Pet Safekeeping Program is dedicated to helping victims of family violence leave abusive situations by providing temporary care for their pets. The Pet Safekeeping Program bridges the gap between animal services and human services to maximize the effectiveness of family violence prevention.

Many studies, including an Alberta SPCA study released in 2012, have shown individuals may delay leaving a domestic violence situation out of concern for the safety of the family pets.

Key findings from the Alberta SPCA study showed that:

  • 59% of abused women with animals were afraid to seek help out of concern for their animals
  • 36% of abused women with animals reported that their abuser threatened or harmed their animals
  • 85% of threats against animals were carried out
  • In cases that involved children as well as threatened animals, 85% of women reported that the children witnessed the threat or harm to the animal
  • In half of those cases, it was the child’s own pet



Help For Pet Owners Facing A Crisis Situation

When in crisis, pet owners are often unable to focus on their own mental and physical well-being until they know their companion animal will be safe. The Pet Safekeeping Program can provide reprieve to pet owners dealing with a life-changing event that impedes their ability to care for their companion animals. 

The program is designed for individuals who have run out of safe options, a last resort program for individuals experiencing crisis and an inability to care for their animals temporarily. Some important information about the program:

  • Crisis includes events such as natural disasters, loss of house due to fire or flooding, sudden hospitalization due to medical emergencies and/or mental health
  • It is required that if there are family members or friends in the individual’s life who can take responsibility for the pet, or if boarding at a kennel or veterinary clinic is an option, that these options are exhausted before admittance into the program is considered
  • In some cases, surrendering the animal may be strongly suggested

In addition to providing short-term housing for pets belonging to individuals who are leaving a situation of family violence, or are in a crisis situation, the services provided by the program include:

  • Customized safety planning for individuals staying in or returning to a violent relationship, companion animals included.
  • Crisis intervention for individuals victimized by family violence or who are unable to cope with their situation.
  • Referrals to supporting agencies and community resources.
  • Collaborative case management to reach personal goal outcomes, companion animals included.
  • Educational outreach focusing on the cruelty connection and the Pet Safekeeping Program.

How Does Someone Access The Program?

The Pet Safekeeping Program collaborates with over 40 family violence agencies across the province of Alberta. In addition, the Pet Safekeeping Program has partnerships with over 30 animal care organizations.

Call: 780-447-3600 ext. 3750   

Email: petsafekeeping@albertaspca.org.

Educational Outreach

Through our Educational Outreach we want to introduce human services professionals to topics that are critical to supporting their clients. 41% of Canadian households have at least one dog and 38% of Canadian households have at least one cat. Those statistics are comparable for other pet species as well. These numbers show that a large proportion of clients accessing human service supports will have pets, even if they do not disclose it.  

It is up to the human service professional to ask the right questions. Many pet owners in crisis are unable to focus on their own needs until the needs of their pets are met. Our goal is to build knowledge and empathy through in-person presentations or through resources so that pet owners in crisis are given access to appropriate support. 

If you are interested in learning about our programs, please contact us at pmamak@albertaspca.org.

How to
Get Help

Pet Safekeeping Program

If you are a pet owner fleeing an abusive home situation and you are concerned about leaving pets behind, or if you face a crisis situation preventing you from caring for your pets, please contact us.

Referrals & Resources

Family violence can take many forms including physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse.

Learn More

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