Gateway Gazette

Pets as Pawns in Abusive Relationships

Women’s Shelters Canada has released the results of it’s 5th annual Shelter Voices survey. The survey provides a small snapshot of what’s going on in emergency and transition shelters across the country on a single day during the year.

47% of responding shelters reported being full at the time of the count, a number holding steady over the last five years.

New this year, the survey looked at Pet Boarding options available to shelters. Research done by the Animals and Interpersonal Abuse Research Group (AIPARG) of the University of Windsor shows the intersection of abuse against people and animals. While threats to the safety of a family pet increased the desire for women to leave an abusive partner, 56% delayed leaving due to concern about their pet’s safety, while 47% of those women said they would have left earlier if they could bring their pet into shelter with them. Additionally, approximately 33% of women considered returning to their abuser because he had her pets.

For the Shelter Voices survey, participants were asked how frequently women reached out for help for themselves and their pet. 45% of shelters responded once every 2-5 months, while 28% responded once a month of more.

Shelters understand this barrier for women fleeing abuse and are working to address the issue. At Rowan House Society we work with both Heaven Can Wait and Living Prairie Kennels to find temporary solutions for those seeking emergency shelter.

To read the full survey, visit

Source: Rowan House

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