Skip to Main Content

Ontario Veterinary Medical Association

Your Source. Your Voice.


SafePet Ontario fosters companion animals for women and their children who are fleeing from intimate partner violence into the safety of local Violence Against Women (VAW) shelter.

The program provides veterinary intake and long- or short-term fostering for the duration of a woman’s stay in a shelter. Upon exiting the shelter, owners are reunited with their pets so they can move into a better future together.

SafePet Ontario is administered by the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association.

Why is SafePet Ontario important?

Many survivors of intimate partner violence won't leave their abuser if they can't take their pet(s) with them to safety. The SafePet program removes a significant barrier for those fleeing abuse by caring for their pet until the survivor is stabilized and safe. For survivors who are unable to find a trusted family member, friend or co-worker to care for their pet, SafePet Ontario can save lives. 

GettyImages-509860846Did you know that:

  • 89 per cent of abused women say their partner also abused a pet.
  • 56 per cent of women delayed leaving an abusive relationship due to fear for a pet's safety.
  • 47 per cent say they would have left a relationship earlier if they could have taken a pet with them.
  • 33 per cent say they considered returning to an abuser because their partner had the pet. 

(2017 University of Windsor study) 

How it works

Pet foster families care for pets that belong to women who are seeking residency in a VAW shelter. The foster parents provide pets with food, shelter and appropriate exercise so women at risk of abuse can stay in safety at the shelter until they are ready to exit, without having to worry about their pet’s well-being.

SafePet veterinary hospitals serve as a secret, neutral location where the pet owner can drop off their pet before entering a VAW shelter. The veterinarian then completes a health exam and administers any needed vaccinations to the animal. The identities of the pet’s owner and foster parent are kept strictly confidential for the security and well-being of all those involved.

Once the woman exits the shelter, she is reunited with her pet(s). The intake veterinarian's practice serves as the hub for pick ups and transfers between the foster parent and pet owner.

Usually, the VAW shelter will arrange transport for women from their residence to the shelter, so pets are dropped off on the way to the shelter.

If you're a woman at risk of abuse and need to find a local shelter, visit To receive help from SafePet Ontario, follow these steps.

How to help 

Become a SafePet Ontario foster parent

A pet foster parent picks up the pet from a confidential veterinary clinic and cares for the pet for up to one year. Once the survivor is re-established in a safe environment, they are reunited with their pet. 

Become a SafePet Ontario foster parent.

Become a partner veterinary clinic

SafePet veterinary clinics serve as a safe and confidential drop-off location for pets. Veterinarians provide a complimentary physical exam and routine vaccinations for the program's animals, and provide a welcoming environment for pets in transition and during any medical emergencies. The identities of the pet’s owner and the SafePet foster parent are kept strictly confidential for the security and well-being of all involved.

Become a SafePet Ontario partner veterinary clinic

Shelters, humane societies, volunteers and corporate partners

Let's work together to help people and their pets find safety sooner. Learn how you can help.

To learn more about SafePet Ontario or how you can join our network, visit, or contact the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association at 1.800.670.1702 or

SafePet Ontario in the news

How SafePet helps women leave abusive relationships

'I don't want other women to feel stuck': Program helps victims of abuse find care for pets

SafePet program helps keep pets safe while victims of abuse seek help

Women with pets more likely to endure domestic abuse, study finds

Helping women and their pets escape abusive relationships

Saving two lives: Ottawa woman honoured for creating foster network for pets of abused women

SafePet Ontario is administered by the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association. For more information or to work with us, visit or contact us at 1.800.670.1702 or Together, we can save lives.



420 Bronte Street South,
Suite 205,
Milton, Ontario L9T 0H9
Phone: 905.875.0756 / (toll free) 1.800.670.1702  



Media|Advertise|Corporate Partner Program|  Industry Partner Program|  General Disclaimer|Survey|Site Map

© 2019 Ontario Veterinary Medical Association