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:
- 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.
- 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)
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).
- 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 threats
- If there is evidence of the threat (letter, email, text, recording), keep that evidence.
- Take pictures of any injuries.
- Keep evidence of veterinary bills and pet supplies for which you paid.
- If there are any ownership papers in your name, be sure to keep a copy and include it in your safety plan.
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 Suggestions
If you are staying in your current residence:
- Consider installing new window and door locks.
- Install an alarm system and/or motion detectors.
- Change your phone number and make your number private.
- Get a PO box so the abuser cannot check your mail.
- Apply for an emergency protection order and include your pet(s).
- Do not let your pet(s) roam outdoors; the abuser may gain access to them this way.
- If you take your pet(s) for walks, change your route.
If you are leaving or moving to a new residence:
- Do not move to a secluded area.
- Consider renting a post office or using your work address for mail.
- Be cautious when giving out your new phone number or address – if you share family or friends this information may make its way to the abuser.
- Change your work hours if possible.
- Find a new doggy daycare, veterinarian, groomer, etc.
- If you have children make sure the school is aware of the safety concerns and consider switching schools, sporting groups, after school programs, etc.
Safety Plan Suggestions
If you have an emergency protection order:
- Keep a copy of the emergency protection order with you at all times.
- Make sure that trusted friends, family, neighbors, employers, school officals, etc. know about the order.
- Circulate a photo of the abuser to employers, neighbors, schools, and any businesses utilized by your pet(s).
- If you do not have an emergency protection order and feel you might need one, call your local law enforcement agency. Ask to have your pet(s) included on the protection order.
Change your daily patterns:
- Reschedule appointments or meetings that the abuser may be aware of.
- Shop at new grocery stores, go to a different gym, change gas stations, find a new place of worship, take different routes to work, etc. Change all of your daily patterns.
- Find a new dog park or walking trail, etc.
- Frequent different social spots.
Be careful and vigilante:
- Make your social media accounts private, change passwords and PIN codes to everything including social media accounts, email, gas companies, banking, shopping accounts, etc.
- Get a new computer incase spyware is installed on your computer to track your location.
- Never isolate yourself in an empty parking lot or while taking part in activities that are in secluded areas.
The most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when you decide to leave the relationship.
You can never be too safe – always be prepared and call 911 if something feels out of the ordinary.
- Document everything and keep a record of all texts, emails, stalking, etc.
- Have a safety plan in place and update it regularly – include children and pets in your safety plan.