Pet accommodation options for owners going to a refuge shelter

18 Dec 2020
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Pets are part of the family and are much-loved companions. If you’re experiencing domestic or family violence, and you’re concerned about your pet’s welfare, there are several organisations involved in assisting pets in these situations, including the RSPCA in New South Wales and Maneki Neko Cat Rescue in Melbourne.

The RSPCA NSW Community Domestic Violence Program, which was previously known as Safe Beds for Pets, has been operating throughout NSW since 2005 - assisting individuals and families leaving a domestic or family violence situation. The program assists with the temporary care of pets, when the owner or the owner’s family are at risk, until such time as they relocate to a safe residence and are able to have their pets back again. RSPCA NSW has also developed a framework called Safe Families, to assist domestic violence refuges to adopt a pet-inclusive model so that animals reside onsite with their families.

“Many victims of domestic or family violence will often delay leaving a violent situation due to fears for the safety of their pets. Unfortunately, if funds are limited, there are very few options for victims to have their pets safely housed while they, themselves are trying to safely relocate. The vast majority of temporary accommodation options that victims might flee to, such as a refuge or motel, are not pet-friendly”, said Ms Sandra Ma, Senior Manager of RSPCA NSW Community Programs.

“Our program offers temporary accommodation and access to veterinary treatment for those pets, with the intention of reuniting pets and owners when it is safe to do so. 2020 has definitely been a challenging year for everyone but RSPCA NSW is still here and wants to help as many people and pets as possible - to be able to live a life away from violence and abuse. If you are concerned about the safety of your pet please reach out to us”.

In Victoria, Maneki Neko Cat Rescue has been rescuing and rehoming cats for almost a decade. The organisation is often asked to assist by emergency services, mental health professionals, social workers and families experiencing domestic or family violence situations, to help with short-term accommodation of pet cats until owners are in better circumstances to be able to take care of their pets again.

“Pets are such an important part of family life and for some people, pets are what keep them going in circumstances such as family violence. Sadly, pets can also be abused in these situations or can be a reason to continue living in an unhealthy environment. We hope that by providing this service we can assist in bringing about positive change”, said Ms Samantha McKernan, the Founder of Maneki Neko Cat Rescue.

“We are contacted by social services or law enforcement agencies when there is a need to find temporary accommodation for a cat, and provided we have an available pod we will accommodate them for up to two weeks free of charge. We have now installed eight luxury cat pods where cats can be comfortable in our care for short periods of time, whilst their families get back on their feet”.

Emergency pet accommodation services:

For personal support contact: Lifeline, 1800 Respect and White Ribbon Australia.

 

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