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Protecting Your Pet from Domestic Violence:

Some Frequently Asked Questions

If my partner harms an animal, will he or she hurt me?

How can I protect my pet?

When there's violence in the home, it's very important to have an emergency plan for sheltering your pet, yourself, and other family members.


If Ieave, who will take care of my pet?

If possible, find a friend or family member to care for your pet. If this isn't an option, contact your local animal care and

control agency, battered women's shelter, boarding kennel, or veterinarian. Ask if they know of a Safe Havens for Animals

program that provides temporary housing for pets. If they don't, briefly explain your situation. If your pet is sheltered

or placed in foster care by a humane society, or if a friend can care for your pet temporarily, you will have time to

make long-term plans.

Will my pet be in any danger in a sheltering program or with friends?

Although it's unlikely that a violent partner will come looking for your pet, it's wise to be cautious. Tell your pet's caretakers

to keep the animal's location a secret from anyone who might give this information to your partner. You may be discouraged

from visiting your pet in the temporary home to make sure you, your pet, and the temporary caretaker are safe.

Does my pet need to be current on all vaccinations?

Yes. Almost all veterinary clinics, kennels, and animal shelters require animals to be vaccinated. If you don't have a copy of your pet's vaccination record, he or she may need to be vaccinated again.

Keep vaccination and other veterinary records in a safe place so you can take them with you if you need to leave home in a

hurry. If you don't have these records but know your pet is up to date on vaccinations, ask your veterinarian to send you a

copy of the records.

If your pet is due for vaccinations, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Some local humane agencies provide

low-cost or free vaccinations. Check your local YellowPages under "animal shelters" or "humane societies."

How can I prove that I own my pet?

Your partner may attempt to get control of your pet in order to intimidate you. An animal license, proof of vaccinations,

or veterinary receipts in your name will help prove you own your pet. You can also have your pet microchipped under your name.

What should I take when I move my pet to safety?

If you're able to prepare for your pet's departure, try to have the following pet items in a safe place and out of your partner's reach.

Vaccination and medical records

  • License that proves you own your animal

  • Bowls, bedding, toys, grooming supplies, a favorite blanket, etc.

  • Identification tag without your home address but with a phone number of a trusted friend or your veterinarian

  • Dog leashes

  • Cat carriers

  • Medication, if any

  • An information sheet on food and feeding schedules, medical conditions, medications and schedules, likes and dislikes, and any possible behavior problems to give to a temporary caretaker.

Note: If you leave your home, remove identification tags that identify the household you're leaving and attach tags with the alternative information (such as a trusted friend's or your veterinarian's phone number). Cat carriers are important, too. Unconfined cats can easily get scared and escape. If you don't have a carrier for your cat, a pillowcase can work in an emergency.

What If I Have To Leave My Pet Behind?

Ask a law enforcement agent to accompany you when you return home to reclaim your pet. Most communities recognize pets as property.

Would my pet be better off if I put him or her up for adoption!

Only you can make this decision. Giving up a beloved pet is sad, but it may be best for both of you. For one thing, many housing situations don't permit pets, or if they do, they may cost more. Realizing that your pet is safe in a new home can make your decision to leave a violent situation easier-emotionally and financially.

While animal shelters can't guarantee to place every animal, they do find permanent homes for many. It's easier for shelter

staff to find a home for your pet if they know if the animal is house trained, obedience trained, and good with children

or other animals. Try to give shelter staff a detailed description of your pet's medical history, behavior, and likes and dislikes.

Also make sure shelter staff know how to contact you if they have more questions. To ease the pain of separation, you may

want to take photos of your pet for you and your children.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) First Strike® campaign offers these frequently asked questions and answers in our Making the Connection: ProtectingYour Pet from Domestic Violence brochure. Call 1-888-213-0956 or e-mail for copies. The HSUS also offers strategies for finding pet-friendly rental housing, sample policies and forms, and links to listings of rental properties that welcome pets at


The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) offers an information booklet-Every Home a Safe Home-with safety planning information. To order a copy, visit NCADV's website at


The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) provides information on local domestic violence resources and

has a database with more than 4,000 shelters and service providers in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

It's possible. If a person punches, kicks, throws, or hurts an animal in any way, it's a clear sign that he or she can be violent with humans, as well. If your partner has harmed or seriously threatened your pet, you may be in danger and should think about leaving.

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