Province funds safe haven for family pets
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | March 23, 2017
Sometimes victims of domestic violence don’t leave their abuser because they are worried about their animals.
However, your pet or farmyard animals can flee domestic violence too, Kawartha Haliburton Victim Services says.
“Under the Victim Quick Response Program, victims of domestic violence can leave their abuser and their animals can also be kept safe,” said Whitney Rickard, client services co-ordinator.
Rickard said animal assistance is a new service that the Ministry of the Attorney General is now funding as of September 2016. Victims are eligible to receive $200 for 10 days of animal care. “This (has been) a big obstacle for victims as animals are like children and pet owners do not want to leave their animals behind, or abusers sometimes abuse or neglect the animals as a way to get to the victim while they are looking for other accommodation or staying in our local women’s shelter, and/or hospital,” Rickard said. She noted that women’s shelters do not take animals in so it is a real issue.
The funding means people can lodge their pets or other animals with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA), a local veterinarian clinic, or a private animal shelter. It’s not just pets, stresses executive director Laura Proctor, who says sometimes women don’t leave “for decades” because of chickens or ducks.
She said Kawartha Haliburton Victim Services has good relationships with animal welfare agencies, such as the OSPCA, veterinary clinics and animal sanctuaries so the money can stretch a long way. Rickard said the OSPCA will do the pick-up and apply for reimbursement costs later.
“It is an issue or barrier to leaving, especially if people don’t have an income or are on a fixed income and spending $20 a day or more to keep an animal safe is out of their reach. They may feel as if they are forced to abandon their animals. But animals are a great therapy. You want your pet with you. They are your loved one,” Rickard said.
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.