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.

View Safe Beds Report 6/10/2023

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.

This inbox is checked between 8am-6pm 7days a week.

Enquiries to

Expectations as referrer

  • Our preference is to liaise primarily with the original referrer (unless specified) rather than the owner (service user). This is to reduce the stress of the owner (service user) as it can become quite distressing for the owner as many people have moments of guilt that they have let down their pets, which is not the case.
  • We will provide updates directly to the referrer to share with the owner (service user)
  • We do expect updates on the owners (service users) housing progress. We understand that given the current climate, this could take longer than the normal two-week contact length. Regular updates/ communication regarding the process greatly assists us so that we can take the best care of their pet, as well as inform foster carers on the length of stay.
  • If you are no longer the primary worker for the owner (service user), we ask that you inform us of the new worker who will be the contact person moving forward.
  • Please ensure that and the owner (service user) read and understand the Safe Beds Memorandum of Understanding.

Application process

  • RSPCA Tasmania recommends that the application form is completed with the owner (service user).
  • Completing the application form with the service user will add you in completing all mandatory fields of the application form. If the owner is unsure of any of the information (vaccination or desex status), they will need to either review the adoption pack they received when they first got the animal, or contact the vet that they use the most frequently if they no longer have access to this information.
  • All fields of the application form are mandatory. If any fields are left empty or incomplete, this will delay the application process.
Year Established
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Safe Beds Program Application &
Memorandum of Understanding


Owner's Details

DD slash MM slash YYYY


Pet's Details

(cat or dog etc.)
All cats and dogs must be desexed to utilise this program.


Vet's Details

For verifying desex surgeries.
DD slash MM slash YYYY
DD slash MM slash YYYY
Has your animal been boarded in a facility before?
For instance, does your animal interact with other cats/dogs well? Ever exhibited aggressive behaviours toward people, or other animals? Does your dog walk well on a lead? Do they resource guard? Are they toilet trained? Anything else we should know?



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. Please do not leave valuable possessions with your animal as we cannot guarantee that we can return them.

Signed on behalf of RSPCA Tasmania: Andrea Dawkins
Position: CEO RSPCA Tasmania
MM slash DD slash YYYY

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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The Safe Beds & Centrepay Desex programs and animal surrenders are closed between 15/12/2023 until 2/01/2024.
We hope you have a safe and happy festive season.