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Domestic Violence Checklist

  • A list of domestic violence shelters in Alberta is available here: acws.ca/shelters.
  • If you are in crisis and have a pet, contact us at 780-447-3600 ext 3750.
  • If you’re in immediate danger, call 911.

The Most Dangerous Time

Domestic Violence Safety Plan Checklist

If you are in an abusive relationship, it is important to have a personalized safety plan to keep you and your loved ones safe (this includes your pets).

How Do I Keep My Children, My Pets, and Myself Safe?

Escaping a relationship that is plagued with abuse is complicated. In fact, deciding to leave an abusive relationship is often just the beginning of the journey. Countless studies have shown that woman are at the highest risk of being seriously injured or killed when they decide to leave a violent relationship. If you are in an abusive relationship, it is important to have a personalized safety plan to keep you and your loved ones safe. You should have a safety plan whether you plan to stay in the relationship, are contemplating on leaving, or have already left the relationship.

Safety Plan Checklist


Identification *





* Keep important documents in a safe place such as a safety deposit box, at your place of employment, or with a trusted neighbour / friend. Photocopy identification that you regularly use to keep a copy in a safe place with your other important documents. Make sure to include your children’s documents as well.

** Put an extra set of keys in a hidden but easily accessible place.

*** Leave your suitcase with a trusted neighbour or friend. Make sure that your suitcase includes any valuable or irreplaceable items such as photographs or jewelry, in addition to clothing and other personal belongings.

Your Next Steps

Including pets in a safety plan will ensure that all family members will escape an abusive situation

□ Know your pets hiding spot so you do not have to spend time looking for them during an emergency.

□ Try to have the following pet items in a safe place where your abuser won’t find them:

  • Vaccination & Medical Records  
  • Pet Licence (Proves Ownership)  
  • ID Tag With Leash & Collar
  • Carrier
  • Medication (If required)

Remember that your personal safety plan is not written in stone – as your life situation changes so will your safety plan. Please ensure to adjust your safety plan accordingly.

The Alberta SPCA’s pet safekeeping program provides temporary care for pets whose owners are in violent and abusive situations.

If you are fleeing a domestic violence situation and you have a pet you should:

  1. Contact a local women’s shelter (211) or a Family Violence Specialist at the Today Centre (780-455-6880) to get a referral to the Pet Safekeeping Program.
  2. Contact the Pet Safekeeping Coordinator at the AB SPCA at 780-447-3600 ext 3750 to learn more about the program.

The Pet Safekeeping Program will provide your pet with all required supplies and any medical assistance your pet(s) may require. You do not have to worry about anything while your pet is in the Pet Safekeeping Program.

If You Leave a Violent Relationship

If your pet(s) are at risk of being harmed or killed, take your pet(s) with you when you leave home to protect them. Shelters in the Edmonton area do not allow pets but there are several things you can do:

  1. If you are driving yourself to a shelter and your pet(s) are at risk of being harmed or killed, take the pet(s) with you. The pet(s) can stay in the car while the shelter staff refer you to the Pet Safekeeping Program.
  2. If you are being picked up and/or cannot drive the pet(s) with you to a safe place such as a shelter, ask a neighbour, friend, vet, or a local boarding kennel to hold onto your pet until you can get a referral to the Pet Safekeeping Program.

If you have to leave your pet(s) behind and return home to pick them up, be aware of your own safety. You may contact the police to meet you at your home to ensure that you are safe.  If your partner will not let you take the pet(s) you can apply for an Emergency Protection Order (EPO) that includes your pet(s). The police cannot force your partner to give you the pet(s) if you do not have the pet(s) included on the EPO. To apply for an EPO that includes your pet(s) please note the following:

For your lawyer

  • The use of PAFVA does not amount to a protection order for the animal. Rather, the question is how animals may be considered in the conditions of protection orders for victims of domestic violence.
  • Direct protection for animals in domestic violence may also be addressed by Alberta’s Animal Protection Act and the following sections of the Criminal Code of Canada: 444 & 445 (injuring or endangering), 445.1 (causing unnecessary suffering), 446 (neglect and abandonment) and 264.1(1)(c) (uttering threats).

For you

Tell your lawyer about threats and show them evidence to request that any protective order includes provisions for the safety of your pet or livestock:

Make note of the dates and extent of threatsIf there is evidence of the threat (letter, email, text, recording), keep that evidenceTake pictures of any injuriesKeep evidence of veterinary bills and pet supplies for which you paidIf there are any ownership papers in your name, be sure to keep a copy and include it in your safety plan

If you have questions about the Pet Safekeeping Program, you can e-mail Pet Safekeeping petsafekeeping@albertaspca.org or call 780-447-3600 ext 3750.

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

Find a shelter in the Province of Alberta in your area.

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