Yvonne Tang, Nicole Huang and Hayley Glaholt, founders of the Link Coalition Toronto (Link T.O.), received the 2021 Honorary Membership Award from the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) for their dedication to assisting survivors of domestic violence and their pets. The award recognizes individuals for their extraordinary contributions to animal welfare and/or the veterinary profession.
Tang, Huang and Glaholt established Link T.O. when they saw a critical need to educate the public about the co-occurrence of domestic violence and animal abuse. They also identified the need for a pet fostering program in the Toronto area that was specifically tailored to survivors of domestic violence and their pets. Research shows that women in abusive situations will delay seeking safety out of fear of leaving their pets at the hands of their abusers. To fill this gap, Link T.O. partnered with OVMA’s SafePet Ontario program, which coordinates foster care for pets of survivors fleeing domestic abuse and intimate partner violence.
“They have been indispensable assets to the SafePet Ontario program,” says Tammy Merritt, SafePet Ontario coordinator. “Without their dedication, the program would not be where it is today.”
Despite working full-time jobs and caring for their respective families, Tang, Huang and Glaholt have worked to develop and expand the SafePet Ontario program. Over the last few years, they’ve substantially evolved the program by educating community health workers, law enforcement officials, animal care professionals, and the public about the interconnectedness of four types of violence: child abuse, animal abuse, elder abuse and domestic violence.
Driven by the belief that all living beings have inherent value and are deserving of respect in thought and action, Tang, Huang and Glaholt have made a lasting impact on hundreds of survivors.
“These women have worked tirelessly, while still maintaining full-time jobs, to help women and their family pets like my cat Phoebe and me,” says a domestic abuse survivor who accessed the SafePet Ontario program through Link T.O. “They have advocated for women fleeing domestic violence who have been forced to abandon their animals. They are literally helping to save the lives of individuals, children and family pets.”