Petbarn Foundation / RSPCA Safe Beds Program

Over 2021/2022 we began working with “A Paw Up”, Tasmania’s only dedicated foster care network for the pets of people escaping family/domestic violence or experiencing homelessness.

The RSPCA was able to take companion animals on their list when their foster carer network was at capacity.

In February 2022, A Paw Up made the decision to wind up. We have been able to step into the space to ensure that this important community service continues.

The Petbarn Foundation generously supports this service, so we can offer Safe Beds for the companion animals of people who are experiencing housing insecurity due to domestic/family violence, or other legitimate reasons.

Research shows us that people stay in violent and abusive relationships because they fear for their companion animals.

Generally, interim housing does not accommodate the companion animals of those fleeing violent situations. Leaving those people, often women and children vulnerable to further abuse.

A woman’s decision to leave a violent and abusive relationship is a complex process. She first needs to consider the risks to her and her children. Paradoxically, taking that step towards safety is also the time of greatest danger of homicide, sexual assault, and increased violence.

Pets and service animals are also a part of the lives of many families. This means they are an important part of the decision-making process when women consider leaving a violent situation.

A recent Australian study revealed that approximately 50 percent of women in violent relationships reported that their violent partner had hurt or killed one of their pets. The study also revealed that 33 per cent of these female pet owners, who were now living in crisis accommodation, had delayed leaving their violent relationship because of concerns for their pet’s welfare.

Animal abuse often is linked to the severity of domestic violence, and individuals who commit pet abuse are more likely to inflict physical and mental violence on other family members. Many jurisdictions are recognising these facts and changing legislation to include animals in family violence laws, and we are lobbying the Tasmanian government to also include provision for animals in legislation.

We work with case workers and individuals to ensure that the companion animals of people experiencing homelessness are given the time and space to regroup and get back on their feet. Animals in this program need to be desexed, microchipped and vaccinated, unless there are extenuating circumstances, with confirmation from a veterinary professional.

Enquiries to adawkins@rspcatas.org.au

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