What are safe havens?
Safe havens are sheltering services available in an area that assist individuals experiencing domestic violence with placing their companion animals out of harm's way so that they may seek safety for themselves as well as their animals. The safe havens directory was established by the Animal Welfare Institute in 2011 to help people find these facilities.
Safe havens operate differently from community to community. Some rely on networks of foster care homes. Others use the additional kennel space of a local humane society or veterinarian. In some cases, domestic violence shelters house victims and pets together, either in the same area or in dedicated kennel space at the domestic violence shelter.
They can be independent nonprofit organizations or formal partnerships between domestic violence agencies and animal agencies or groups. Depending on the local arrangement, family members may be able to visit their pets while they are in safe-keeping. How long a pet may stay in a safe haven again will depend on the local arrangement—some stays are much shorter than others. Confidentiality of the pet’s location is highly guarded in order to protect the pets and their family members.
Where are they?
Until AWI established the Safe Havens Mapping Project in 2011, there were only partial listings of safe havens for pets. The Safe Havens Mapping Project addressed this gap with the development of an integrated, comprehensive state-by-state listing of sheltering services for the animals of those experiencing domestic violence. The entities included in the listing, which is subject to ongoing refinement and updating, either provide sheltering services for the animals of domestic violence survivors, or have a relationship with an entity that does.
About the Animal Welfare Institute
Since 1951, AWI has been alleviating suffering inflicted on animals by humans. Through engagement with policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public, AWI seeks to protect companion animals from cruelty and violence. AWI actively pursues partnerships with other organizations to offer resources, programs, and policies that address the important relationship between animal cruelty and family violence. AWI also works collaboratively with other groups that address all forms of interpersonal violence, e.g., the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the Battered Women’s Justice Project, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Please note that the Animal Welfare Institute is an animal protection organization and is not equipped to provide direct assistance to domestic violence survivors. We strongly encourage anyone experiencing domestic violence to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 for support and information on resources in your area. The National Network to End Domestic Violence is another vital contact, with coalition partners in every US state and territory and the District of Columbia that can direct domestic violence survivors to resources in their area.
Who is the Safe Havens for Pets team?
The Safe Havens for Pets team includes Dr. Mary Lou Randour, a psychologist and the Senior Advisor for the Animals and Family Violence Program at AWI, Sydney Hearst, Valerie Peña, Anabel Kearley, and Gabriella Castillo.
If you are interested in the Safe Havens for Pets team speaking at your event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Past Speaking Arrangements and Presentations:
- Humane Canada Violence Link Conference: Components of a Successful National Directory of Safe Havens for Domestic Violence Survivors and Their Pets
- Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, Victim Services Department Training: The Safe Havens for Pets of Domestic Violence Survivors Partnership
- US Department of Justice, Office of Victims of Crime: Emergency and Transitional Pet Shelter and Housing Assistance Meeting
- Check out a copy of a recent presentation here (PDF)