About SafePet Ontario

Established by the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association in 2003, SafePet Ontario coordinates foster care for pets of individuals fleeing domestic violence. The program helps survivors seek safety while ensuring their pet receives proper care until they’re stabilized and safe and can reunite.

In March 2022, Link Coalition Toronto assumed ownership and management of SafePet Ontario. Link T.O. has been running a GTA-based SafePet program since 2017. They are currently in the process of merging the two organizations.

Why SafePet Ontario exists

Many survivors of intimate partner violence won’t leave their abuser if they can’t take their pet(s) with them to safety. SafePet Ontario removes a significant barrier for those fleeing abuse by caring for their pet(s) until the survivor is stabilized and safe. For survivors who are unable to find a trusted family member, friend or co-worker to care for their pet(s), SafePet Ontario can save lives.

SafePet Ontario coordinates foster care for pets of individuals fleeing domestic violence.

We offer long- or short-term fostering options for the duration of a survivor’s transition to safety. Once they’re ready, we reunite owners with their pets so they can move into a better future together.

How does SafePet Ontario work?

For survivors of domestic violence, having access to the SafePet Ontario program can literally save lives.

When a survivor doesn’t have the option to flee to safety with their pet, they often have to make the difficult decision to:

  • Surrender their pet to a rescue or shelter.
  • Abandon their pet with the hope that someone will find it, offering a better chance of survival.
  • Stay with their abuser to protect their pet.
  • Leave the pet behind with their abuser, which leaves them at risk of becoming the target of abuse or being used to coerce the survivor to return.

SafePet Ontario eliminates these barriers by providing survivors with an opportunity to live a safe and happy life with their companion animal.

SafePet Ontario coordinates foster care for the pets of survivors fleeing to safety.   

Pet foster parents (individuals over 18 years of age) take in pets that belong to individuals who are fleeing domestic violence. The foster parents provide pets with food, shelter and appropriate exercise so that individuals at risk of abuse can transition to safety without having to worry about their pet’s well-being.

SafePet Ontario veterinary hospitals serve as a neutral location where the pet owner can drop off their pet before entering foster care. The veterinarian will complete a health exam and administer any needed vaccinations to the animal. The identities of the pet’s owner and the foster parent are kept strictly confidential for the security and well-being of all involved.

Once the individual is reestablished and ready, they will be reunited with their pet(s). The hub for pick-ups and transfers between the foster parent and pet owner is at the intake veterinarian’s practice.

In Ontario, almost half of women experiencing situations of domestic violence 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.