RSPCA / Petbarn Foundation Safe Beds Program

We continue to grow our suite of social programs, with Safe Beds recognised as a vital element of the wrap around services available for victim / survivors of family / domestic violence and people experiencing homelessness.

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.

This program recently received a funding boost from the National Partnership on Family/Domestic Violence Responses, giving us a little latitude to also care for the animals of people experiencing homelessness, due to the issues around affordable housing and housing supply.

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.

The Petbarn Foundation came onboard as our founding partner in 2021 and proudly supports this program.

Substantial evidence exists worldwide documenting the connection between animal abuse and domestic and family violence. This includes recognition of the fact that:

  • Pet abuse often occurs before or at the same time as human abuse in domestic and family violence situations.
  • A major reason for the abuse of pets by perpetrators is to control women and children.
  • Many women will delay leaving an abusive relationship because they cannot make arrangements for the safety of their pets – rates range from 18% to 48% (Volant et al., 2008).
  • Significant trauma is experienced by women and children witnessing the threat or actual abuse of pets.
  • Over 50% of pets living in violent households are reported as deliberately injured or killed (Ascione 1997; Volant et al. 2008).
  • Pets are an important part of the family, and they play a significant role in increasing the physical and emotional wellbeing of their owners (Taylor, et al., 2020).

We have recently expanded the Safe Beds Program to assist people whose animals need temporary care during a hospitalisation, or for those evacuating their homes due to weather events.

The RSPCA understands that councils often have their own processes for companion animal care but for those evacuations where companion animals cannot be housed safely, please fill in the Safe Beds form on this page.

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Safe Beds Program Application &
Memorandum of Understanding


Owner's Details



Pet's Details



Vet's Details

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Has your animal been boarded in a facility before?
For instance, bedding, toys, leads, carriers etc.
For instance, does your animal interact with other cats/dogs well? Ever exhibited aggressive behaviours toward people, or other animals?



Safe Beds Memorandum of Understanding

Period of Agreement
The period for each contract is two weeks. This contract can be renewed.

The parties to this MoU are the client and RSPCA Tasmania.

Common Objective
To ensure the health and wellbeing of the animals present and residing at our care centre.

Distribution of Functions
In view of the common objectives, the client will ensure that all animals transferred to the RSPCA have been vet checks and treated, as necessary, that all vaccinations are up to date. If that is not possible, we will ensure animals vet checks are compliant with RSPCA policies.

Referral and Eligibility
This program has been developed to assist people leaving domestic and family violence (DFV) situations or other emergencies requiring crisis accommodation for companion animals.

Regular communication will occur between RSPCA Tasmania and the client, or client’s advocates relating to sharing of information and documentation in relation to the care of animal residing at RSPCA within the Safe Beds Program.

RSPCA Tasmania will keep confidential information regarding individuals for whom any of the agencies are providing or arranging services including personal information as defined in relevant legislation and not deal with such information in any way that might prejudice its confidentiality, unless disclosure is required by law or is made to an employee or student or a party who has need to know for the purposes of this document and who has been directed by the party to regarding information that needs to be kept confidential. RSPCA Tasmania agrees not to use or release any reports, data, or other information identifying participants or owners, except with the approval of such owners in accordance with the rules and policies of RSPCA Tasmania where applicable, Tasmanian or federal laws and regulations. Such information shall be used only to assure proper administration, planning, coordination and monitoring of performance under this Agreement, and to permit the transfer of client records between organisations for the purpose of continuing services, and for research and teaching purposes. Either party must not, during this association or after its termination, disclose confidential knowledge or information about the other party to any associate, client or any other person or body except if ordered by a Court of competent jurisdiction or with the written agreement of the other party and do so only in a manner consistent with such order.

In the event of a dispute, difference of interpretation, or appeal of a decision regarding the terms and/or conditions of this agreement, settlement shall first be sought in the regular meeting between the authorised agents of the parties. If settlement cannot be reached, the issue shall then be presented to the executives of the parties for joint resolution by them.

The client acknowledges there are risks associated with animals in RSPCA care including but not limited to illness, injury, death and being stolen. The client hereby indemnifies RSPCA Tasmania in relation to any event or condition suffered by an animal transferred to RSPCA during the agreed time frame.

Signed on behalf of RSPCA Tasmania: Andrea Dawkins
Position: Deputy CEO RSPCA Tasmania
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