Nfld. & Labrador

Pet Safe Keeping program to help pets of domestic violence victims

Pet Safe Keeping, a new program launched Tuesday, means victims of domestic violence can leave an abusive situation without leaving their pets behind.

A new program makes it easier for victims to leave abusive situations

Const. Shawna Park with the RNC in Corner Brook says they need people to sign up to be foster families for pets leaving abusive homes. (Colleen Connors/CBC )

Help is now available for the pets of domestic violence victims in the Corner Brook area. 

"Pet Safe Keeping", a new program launched Tuesday, means domestic violence victims can now find temporary homes for their pets so they can leave an abusive situation without leaving their pets behind. 

"Today is a big day for victims of domestic violence," said Cnst. Shawna Park with the RNC in Corner Brook. 

"Studies show 59 per cent of victims refuse to leave abusive situations due to threats made to family pets, causing victims to stay in that relationship longer," said Park. 

Studies show 59 per cent of victims refuse to leave abusive situations due to threats made to family pets.- Shawna Park

The RNC has partnered with Willow House, the N-L West SPCA, Humber Valley Veterinary Clinic and the City of Corner Brook. 

The program fills a gap that the domestic violence shelter in Corner Brook, Willow House, couldn't provide.

"In the past two years working on this, people have been coming to Willow House and we haven't been equipped to handle it,"  says Park. 

Volunteer veterinarians will make sure pets are healthy, providing exams and emergency care and checking to see if they've been abused. 

Dr. Michael Tipple with Humber Valley Veterinarian Clinic in Corner Brook says every pet will have a thorough physical examination. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Foster families desperately needed

Park said they need families to register to get the program up and running.

Because the program is new, they're not sure exactly how many families will be needed. 

"We are hoping for 10 to 15 foster families to start with the program, and then if the need arises we will put out another call," said Park. 

She adds a typical stay at Willow House is about six weeks so pets may be in foster care that long or longer, depending on the circumstances. But she says there could also be times when foster care is needed for just a few days.

With files from Colleen Connors

now