Every year 8 March is International Women's Day, and everyday RSPCA NSW supports women* and their children to live a life free from fear and abuse. By arranging secure and affordable emergency pet accommodation, RSPCA NSW aims to assist in empowering women and their children to escape domestic violence through their Safe Beds for Pets program.
"Large numbers of family members in domestic violence situations have pets," said the RSPCA NSW Safe Beds for Pets Coordinator. "Sadly, these pets often become directly involved in domestic violence, as abuse of a pet is a tactic commonly used to control, hurt and intimidate the victim. Fear of leaving pets in the hands of a violent partner often prevents or delays victim's leaving a domestic violence situation."
In fact, Australian studies have indicated that between 50-85% of women who experienced domestic violence had a family pet and that 54% of abused women indicated that their partner had hurt or killed their family pets. Many victims of domestic violence delay leaving the abusive relationship because of fear of what will happen to their pets.
The Safe Beds for Pets program was established to arrange temporary housing for pets of people who are seeking refuge from domestic violence and to address the link between animal and human abuse, and child protection.
"Since the start of this financial year, the program has arranged for the care of 98 pets of domestic violence victims. Arranging safe accommodation for these pets allowed their owners to seek safe refuge themselves without having to worry about of the fate of their pets if left behind in an abusive situation."
"This program is not a long-term solution to the housing of the pets, but it gives domestic violence victims peace of mind and allows them to secure their own safety and make arrangements for the future."
Who is eligible for Safe Beds for Pets?
Safe Beds for Pets is specifically designed to help victims of domestic violence. RSPCA NSW has established partnerships with Domestic Violence victim support services who act as referral agencies for women needing to access this program.
RSPCA NSW also participates in training with domestic violence agencies (for family violence, child protection and animal welfare issues).
What does it cost?
All cases will be assessed on an individual basis. The Safe Beds for Pets program is not government funded and relies on donations and grants for support.
Did you know?
* One in three Australian women experiencing domestic violence delay leaving the abusive relationship because of fear of what will happen to their pets.
* Witnessing pet abuse may interrupt a child's natural development of empathy and contribute to the cycle of violence.
* Over a third of people in the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (GLBTI) community experience domestic violence or abuse.
Thanks to the Becher Foundation
RSPCA NSW would like to sincerely thank the Becher Foundation for their recent, generous donation of $50,000 to support the Safe Beds for Pets program. The Becher Foundation is a small private philanthropic organisation founded in 2004 dedicated to fostering a humane, tolerant society that respects diversity and encourages inclusion.
For more information about the RSPCA NSW Safe Beds for Pets program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Safe Beds for Pets Helpline on 0434 258 259. The Helpline operators are trained and experienced in dealing with domestic violence issues.
*The majority of victims of domestic violence are women and children. However this program is also open to male victims of domestic violence.