What is animal safekeeping?

Leaving an abusive relationship is not an easy thing to do. For the victims of domestic violence who own animals, the decision to leave can be exceptionally difficult. 


Animals may be exposed to and affected by violence in the home. Not only can animals be abused, they can be used as tool for the abuser to control and punish the victim. Pets are seen as part of the family, making it hard for many victims of abuse to leave the home knowing their pet is left behind.

Animal safekeeping programs aims to support the decision making of the victim by providing options to care for pets or livestock that might be in danger. 

What steps can I take to protect my animals?

  • Try to remove the animals from the situation as soon as possible.

  • Gather supplies that might be useful if you have to leave quickly with your pet: a carrier, a collar and leash, medications.

  • Ask friends or trusted family members to care for your pet/pets temporarily.

  • Contact a kennel to make arrangements to have your pet boarded. Kennels will require proof of vaccinations so remember to bring a recent veterinary invoice with you. (Your veterinarian may be able to supply a full vaccination record directly to the boarding kennel, upon request.)

  • Some animal shelters may be able to provide temporary pet care or help arrange for foster care. Talk with your nearest SPCA or Humane Society to see if they can assist.

What can I do if my pet has been abused?

Report animal abuse to one of the organizations listed on the "resources" page or to your local RCMP or municipal police. They will investigate the situation and take appropriate action. You can make an anonymous complaint.

The Animal Protection Act, 2018 makes it illegal for a person to cause or allow an animal to continue to be in “distress.” An animal is in distress if it is:

(a) deprived of:

(i) food or water sufficient to maintain the animal in a state of good health;
(ii) care or shelter; or
(iii) veterinary care or medical attention;


(b) in need of reasonable protection from injurious heat or cold;


(c) wounded, ill, in pain, suffering, abused or neglected;


(d) kept in conditions that:

(i) are unsanitary;
(ii) will significantly impair the animal’s health or well-being over time;
(iii) cause the animal extreme anxiety or suffering; or
(iv) contravene the prescribed standards, codes of practice or guidelines;




(e) abandoned by its owner or by a person responsible for the animal in a manner that causes, or is likely to cause, distress resulting from any or all of the factors listed in this section.

Please visit If Your Animals Are In Danger for information on how to report abuse or neglect of animals.