Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence Minister Simone McGurk has championed the work of RSPCA Western Australia’s Pets in Crisis program, which has helped more than 150 animals from families experiencing family and domestic violence.
The Pets in Crisis program offers a temporary home for pets from households experiencing family and domestic violence, while their owners seek refuge or temporary accommodation of their own.
Under the program, pets are placed with short-term foster families in confidential locations, giving their owners peace of mind that their pet will be safe and well cared for while they focus on their own safety.
Individuals and families will often put off fleeing a violent situation due to concerns regarding the safety of their companion animal, with one study reporting that 35 per cent of women delayed seeking refuge for this reason.
As part of the McGowan Government’s 16 Days in WA campaign to stop violence against women, Ms McGurk highlighted the Pets in Crisis program and thanked the RSPCA WA foster care volunteers for helping to break the cycle of violence in the WA community.
The Department of Communities has provided support to RSPCA WA to help fund their Pets in Crisis program since 2017. This year, Communities has extended funding for Pets in Crisis through to 2023, which will take its total support of the program to more than $650,000.
Pets in Crisis also helped establish emergency accommodation for pets at eight refuges across Perth, allowing pets to stay in safety for a short time, sparing owners the stress of leaving an animal behind when escaping a violent situation.
As stated by Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence Minister Simone McGurk:
“The RSPCA WA Pets in Crisis program not only ensures that animals are protected – it encourages women who are experiencing family and domestic violence to seek help.
“Pets play such an important role in our families, but unfortunately perpetrators can exploit this connection with threats and intimidation, which in turn stops women from leaving – especially if they have limited options to bring their pet with them.
“As a passionate pet owner myself, I am so grateful to the kind people who open their hearts and homes to help women and families in desperate need.
“The 16 Days in WA campaign is about raising awareness and starting conversations that contribute to stopping family and domestic violence in our communities.
“We can all play a role in keeping women, children and their beloved pets safe.”
As stated by RSPCA WA chairperson Lynne Bradshaw:
“Sadly, pets often experience abuse at the hands of domestic violence perpetrators. Animals are threatened, beaten and tortured, and in many cases children and partners in the home are forced to witness this, which is incredibly traumatising.
“Most refuges in Perth aren’t equipped to accept animals long term, which can create an extremely distressing situation for owners. No one should have to choose between fleeing a violent home and staying to protect their beloved pet from harm.
“The Pets in Crisis program provides a critical service to families, offering safe and caring foster homes for animals while owners seek refuge.
“The program also protects animals from violence and abandonment, which is core to RSPCA WA’s mission.”