How to Help - Human Shelters

Become a SafePet Ontario human shelter or transitional home partner

For many, human shelters or transitional homes are the first point of contact for someone experiencing domestic violence.

In Ontario, almost half of those experiencing violent situations delay leaving their partner or don’t leave at all because they’re afraid to leave their pet behind at the hands of their abuser.  Pets are targeted by abusive parties, in order to control and coerce the human victim. To help people and pets find safety sooner, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association established the SafePet Ontario program in 2003.

SafePet Ontario enables survivors to focus on their transition to safety by offering foster placements for their companion animals. Pets participating in the program will be placed in loving homes with experienced foster families that can provide care targeted to a pet’s needs. Once a survivor has transitioned safely and are ready, SafePet Ontario will reunite them with their beloved pet so that they can move into a better future together.

To support survivors and pets in transition, SafePet Ontario relies on a network of volunteers, including pet foster families, veterinary teams, law enforcement agencies, and human and animal shelters. In addition, through ongoing awareness and education initiatives, cross-sector collaboration, SafePet Ontario continues to build upon its strong, provincial-wide network to support the growing demand of those in need.

By joining the SafePet Ontario network, you can help survivors and their companions live a life free from violence.

Group of people holding hands in unity and support.

How does the program work?

  • Survivors must contact an authorized organization to request enrollment in the SafePet Ontario program.
  • The referral agent must be listed on the SafePet Ontario enrollment form, referral agents must be willing to work with SPO during the entirety of the survivors transition to safety.
  • Once a survivor and their pet are enrolled in the SafePet Ontario program, and a foster family that suits the pet’s needs has been found, the survivor will drop their pet off at an agreed-upon location.
  • A veterinarian will perform a free health examination, and administer any needed vaccinations, once the pet has been dropped off. From there, the pet will then be transferred to their foster family (where they will stay until the survivor is re-established).
  • When the survivor is ready, a SafePet Ontario representative will arrange to reunite the pet with their owner.
To learn more about how you can help a survivor access SafePet Ontario assistance, review our Frequently Asked Questions.