Leaving An Abusive Situation is Hard… Especially When There Are Animals Involved

Animal Safekeeping

Animals are also 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.

If someone punches, kicks, throws, or hurts an animal in any way, that person has demonstrated the capacity for violence. You cannot assume that the violence will stop there. If the person has harmed or seriously threatened your animal, you and your children may also be in danger.

What effect does animal abuse have on my children?

Some victims of domestic violence have reported that their children have become more aggressive after witnessing animal cruelty in the home. Children sometimes behave more cruelly to animals, and often become more hurtful to others (for example, bullying) or withdrawn and emotional. It’s important when talking to a counsellor that you mention any animal abuse that has occurred.

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.)

If you are applying for an Emergency Protective Order, protect your animals by including them in it.

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.

If you live in Regina …

The Regina Humane Society Safe Places Program accepts family pets when a victim of domestic violence is leaving, or has already left the home to enter a shelter environment. Pets are picked up directly from the safe house and taken directly to an approved foster family for care. If a pickup is needed outside of the Society’s normal operating hours, contact Regina City Police at 306.777.6500. For further information on the Safe Places Program, please contact 306.543.6363 Ext. 244.

If you live in Saskatoon …

The Saskatoon SPCA Pet Safekeeping Program assists the victims of domestic violence with the short-term care of companion animals. Pet care is provided at no charge for up to one month. Caseworkers at emergency shelters and transition houses are able to provide referrals to this program.

Other things to keep in mind

If your animal is being threatened, keep any evidence you may have (such as photos, emails, or voice mail messages) to hand over to police.

Any receipts or paperwork you have related to the purchase or care of your pet can be useful if you have to prove ownership.

What can I do if my pet has been abused?

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

The Saskatchewan Animal Protection Act makes it illegal for a person to cause or allow an animal to continue to be in “distress.” Distress is defined as:

  • deprived of food, water, or adequate shelter;
  • injured, sick, in pain, or suffering; or
  • abused or neglected.

To report the neglect or abuse of: 

Pets: 

Regina Humane Society – 306.543.6363

Saskatoon SPCA – 306.374.7387

Moose Jaw Humane Society – 306.692.1517

Prince Albert SPCA – 306.763.6110

Pets in all other locations or livestock anywhere in the province: 

Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan – 1.844.382.0002

For emergencies and after-hours assistance:

Contact your local RCMP or municipal police.

Adapted from http://www.albertaspca.org/neglect-abuse/cruelty-connection/victims.html

Animal Safekeeping Coordinator Helping Victims of Violence

My name is Leanne Sillers and I am the new Animal Safekeeping Coordinator here at the Saskatchewan SPCA. In this newly-established position, I will be working to help improve access to resources for people fleeing interpersonal violence and abuse, and their animals.

Leanne Sillers is the new Animal Safekeeping Coordinator at the Saskatchewan SPCA

I have been a social worker for nine years. I am married and have three step children and four grandchildren. When I am not working I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I recently obtained a golden retriever, Jack, who is certified as a therapy dog.

For the past eight years, I worked at Family Service Saskatoon as a half-time youth exposed to violence coordinator and half-time domestic violence court case worker. In both positions I was assisting individuals who either currently or previously had experienced violence in their lives. And, according to the most recent Statistics Canada report, Saskatchewan’s per capita rate of intimate partner violence is more than double the national rate. This means there is definitely lots of work that needs to be done in this area.

By accepting this position I am able to combine both my passion for working with victims of domestic violence and my love for animals. I am looking forward to being a part of such important work.

Funding for the Animal Safekeeping Program has been provided by the Community Initiatives Fund. The Community Initiatives Fund invests in the quality of life of Saskatchewan residents by offering grants for community projects that help support community development, inclusion, leadership and vitality.

 

Employment Opportunity: Program Coordinator

Program Coordinator (Part-time, term)

The Saskatchewan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Saskatchewan SPCA) is working to raise awareness of the human-animal bond and promote the humane treatment of animals.

Saskatchewan Towards Offering Partnership Solutions (STOPS) to Violence is a province-wide partnership that promotes healthy relationships and strong, safe, violence free communities.

PATHS (Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services) of Saskatchewan is a provincial association for 21 women’s shelters and domestic violence counselling agencies.

The three organizations collaborate on initiatives aimed at supporting the growth of strong and healthy communities through improved access to resources for the victims of interpersonal violence and abuse. A joint research study completed in the spring of 2016 explored how concerns about animal safety impact the decision making of individuals leaving situations involving interpersonal violence. Building on this study, the new Animal Safekeeping Program aims to help improve the safety of persons fleeing interpersonal violence and abuse in Saskatchewan, and their animals.

The position:

The Program Coordinator will play a key role in the research and planning required for the successful launch of this program. The ability to work both independently and as part of a team is essential.

Responsibilities include:

  • develop education and training materials for the staffs of human service and animal welfare organizations;
  • deliver regional educational sessions on the link between interpersonal violence and animal abuse;
  • create a database of animal safekeeping resources to assist the victims of interpersonal violence and abuse;
  • assist in the planning and staging of a provincial conference;
  • help grow the number of organizations providing animal safekeeping services and supports in Saskatchewan;
  • explore new options for emergency and longer-term animal safekeeping services and supports; and
  • promote cooperation and collaboration between the human services and the animal welfare sectors.

The Program Coordinator will be based in Saskatoon. The successful candidate will be able to travel periodically, and work weekends and evenings, as required. A valid Saskatchewan driver’s license and reliable transportation are required. Related travel expenses will be reimbursed.

The candidate: 

This position will appeal to individuals with an undergraduate degree or other education/experience in the areas of social work, the humanities, education, veterinary medicine, or veterinary technology.

The successful candidate will also possess:

  • Excellent written and interpersonal communication skills
  • Good research skills
  • Strong problem solving capabilities
  • Excellent organizational and time management skills
  • Familiarity with the use of MS Access or other database program

Salary:    

Dependent upon experience

This is a part-time, term position, with possibility of extension.

Term:  February 15, 2017 to November 30, 2017

¾ time:  30 hours per week

To apply: 

Applicants should send a resume and cover letter outlining how they meet the specific requirements of the position to info@sspca.ca by January 14, 2017.

While we sincerely appreciate all applications, only those candidates selected for interview will be contacted.

Please note the successful candidate will be required to provide a criminal records check.

Funding for the Animal Safekeeping Program has been provided by the Community Initiatives Fund. The Community Initiatives Fund invests in the quality of life of Saskatchewan residents by offering grants for community projects that help support community development, inclusion, leadership and vitality. 

Report explores the link between violence to animals and humans 

The Link

Click the image for the full report

“She came into the shelter with her three children. Lots of physical abuse. She feels really guilty for having to grab her kids and leave the animals behind … it makes her feel even more guilty because not only have the kids lost their home, but they’ve lost the one thing that was comfortable to them and that was really important. It’s like they lost their home and they lost their friend, their pet.”

A new research study demonstrates how concern for the safety of animals serves as a barrier to individuals fleeing domestic violence in Saskatchewan.

The Saskatchewan SPCA worked in partnership with Saskatchewan Towards Offering Partnership Solutions (STOPS) To Violence and the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS) to complete the study.

Representatives from 39 animal welfare organizations and 56 human service agencies shared their experiences working with the victims of domestic violence where there were concerns about animal care and safekeeping.

Participants noted that abusers were able to exercise control over victims and children with threats to harm or kill animals. Victims were often afraid to leave, fearing that something would happen to the pets or livestock left behind.

The study revealed that there are only a limited number of options available to care for the animals of individuals fleeing domestic violence. Most women’s shelters do not allow pets. A small number of animal safekeeping programs are available to care for pets but these programs are typically short-term in nature.

Individuals living in rural areas are often dependent on livestock for their financial security and livelihood. Victims may stay in an abusive situation, feeling they have no other option.

Frances Wach, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan SPCA notes that it is important to help ensure the victims of domestic violence have better access to the resources they need to protect their pets and livestock.

“The Saskatchewan SPCA is seeking funding that will make it possible for us to move forward with the recommendations generated in this report,” says Wach.

Recommendations from “The Link:  Interpersonal Violence and Abuse and Animal Safekeeping”:

  • Develop education and training workshops regarding the connection between interpersonal violence and abuse and animal abuse.
  • Establish partnerships between animal welfare agencies and human service organizations to better provide services.
  • Provide information about services available for both animal welfare and human service providers in urban and rural areas.
  • Train service providers in supporting individuals to plan for animal safekeeping when leaving situations of violence and abuse
  • Create a list of resources and services for animal care and safekeeping currently offered within Saskatchewan
    • resource book, central registry
  • For domestic violence services, ensure that the intake process involves asking whether or not animal abuse is occurring/has occurred within the home.
  • Formulate policies among animal welfare and human service organizations to ensure a clear understanding of what each sector is responsible for. Establishing clear guidelines will remove ambiguity that may arise when working in collaboration.
  • Generate specific and focused action plans for individuals leaving situations of interpersonal violence and abuse who are concerned about animal care and safekeeping, in both urban and rural regions of the province.

Click here to view the full report.

The Link: Interpersonal Violence and Abuse and Animal Safekeeping

The Link: Interpersonal Violence and Abuse and Animal SafekeepingThe Saskatchewan SPCA, in partnership with STOPS to Violence and the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS), is pleased to announce the release of a new report called The Link: Interpersonal Violence and Abuse and Animal Safekeeping.

This report offers important knowledge regarding the barriers for individuals leaving situations involving interpersonal violence and abuse, who have concern for animal care and safekeeping. The information gathered throughout this project offers increased knowledge and insight, and has instilled hope that much can be done to assist individuals leaving situations of violence and abuse to ensure the safety of both humans and animals. A collaborative spirit among animal welfare agencies and human service organizations is imperative, which will lead to positive change within the community at large.

The project followed a mixed methods approach, consisting of both quantitative and qualitative portions. The first portion of the project took place between July 2014 and August 2015, and involved gathering online quantitative questionnaire responses. Responses were obtained from 39 animal welfare representatives and 56 human service representatives in both urban and rural regions of Saskatchewan. Service providers were asked about their experience with working with individuals leaving situations of interpersonal violence and abuse who had concern for animal care and safekeeping.

The second portion of the project took place between October and December 2015. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with nine participants representing the knowledge and experience of human service and animal welfare providers. Utilizing thematic analysis, a number of important themes emerged. The quotes illustrated throughout the body of this report reflect the devastating barriers that individuals are faced with when seeking refuge from violence and abuse while having concern for animal safety and safekeeping.

Based on the information gathered, a list of recommendations was created:

  • Develop education and training workshops regarding the connection between interpersonal violence and abuse and concern for animal safekeeping to human service organizations, animal welfare agencies, and the general public.
  • Establish partnerships between animal welfare agencies and human service organizations to better provide services.
  • Provide information about services available for both animal welfare and human service providers in urban and rural areas.
  • Train service providers in supporting individuals to plan for animal safekeeping when leaving situations of violence and abuse.
  • Create a list of resources and services for animal care and safekeeping currently offered within Saskatchewan (e.g., develop a resource book, provincial registry).
  • Among domestic violence services, ensure that the intake process involves asking whether or not animal abuse is occurring/has occurred within the home.
  • Formulate policies among animal welfare and human service organizations, to ensure a clear understanding of what each sector is responsible for. Establishing guidelines will remove ambiguity that may arise when working together.
  • Generate specific and focused action plans for individuals leaving situations of interpersonal violence and abuse who are concerned about animal care and safekeeping, in both urban and rural regions of Saskatchewan.

Funding and research expertise for this project was provided by the Community Research and Action Fund through the Community Research Unit, Faculty of Arts at the University of Regina. These resources enabled our team to establish key groundwork in identifying issues and potential solutions to providing animal safekeeping supports for people who are leaving abusive relationships in Saskatchewan.

Frances Wach from the Saskatchewan SPCA and Tracy Knutson from STOPS to Violence will lead a discussion on The Link: Interpersonal Violence and Abuse and Animal Safekeeping at the Animal Welfare Conference in Saskatoon from September 23-25, 2016.

Please click here for the full report.