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Ontario Veterinary Medical Association

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SafePet Program



Many women at risk of domestic abuse are reluctant to leave their home and seek help at a women’s shelter if it means leaving their pet behind with the abuser. SafePet helps women leave abusive partners by providing temporary housing and care for their pets. 

  • 48% of surveyed Ontario women who had left their abusive partner said that their pets delayed their decision to leave an abusive partner. 
  • 61% of surveyed Ontario women who had left their abusive partner stated that their partners had brutalized or killed a pet.  

(OSPCA 1998) 


How it works

Volunteer pet foster parents from across the province offer to take in pets that belong to women who are residents of Violence Against Women shelters. Volunteer veterinarians help by being a neutral location where the pet owner can drop off their pet before staying in a Violence Against Women shelter. Pet foster parents pick the pet up after the veterinarian has completed an exam and any needed vaccinations.


Women at risk of abuse

If you're a woman seeking safety, call the Assaulted Women’s Help Line at 1.866.863.0511 (TTY 1.866.863.7868) or call a local women’s shelter who will help to place your pet.


Information for Violence Against Women shelters

SafePet is a voluntary program. Information on the SafePet Program has been mailed to all Ontario VAW shelters by the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Interested VAW shelters can sign up by notifying OAITH or AOcVF, and they will be added to the participants list. OVMA, OAITH and AOcVF will provide interested VAW shelters and veterinary clinics with a comprehensive program guide, tools, and templates in order to launch SafePet in their communities.


Information for OVMA members

If you're an OVMA member veterinarian and are looking for information on the program, see the SafePet Program Guide (PDF) for OVMA Veterinary Clinics.


Potential pet foster parents

If you want to volunteer for the program as a pet foster parent, contact a local Violence Against Women shelter in your community.


Potential local community organizers

If you are interested in creating a SafePet network in your municipality, SafePet Ottawa is dedicated to sharing their model. 


The SafePet Program was designed by OVMA, the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH), and Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes (AOcVF) and is administered by Ontario’s Violence Against Women (VAW) Shelters.

By working together, we can help end violence in our communities.

An OVMA Community Relations Program


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



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