Safety Planning for Pets in a Domestic Violence Situation

Two dogs laying with each other in a bed

Pets are family. It can be difficult to envision leaving a domestic violence situation if you do not know what will happen to your beloved pet. You are not alone: according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, up to 65% of domestic violence victims are unable to leave because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets. Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your pets from an abusive situation.

Planning to Leave

The first step is to establish a record of ownership of pet(s) in your name. Ownership can be proven through:

• Vaccination records
• Veterinary payments
• Microchip records
• Pet licensing
• Adoption records

You do not need to have all these documents in your name. These are just an idea of what documents you can use to prove your ownership. A paper trail of recorded ownership over your pet increases the likelihood law enforcement and animal control are to intervene. If you have not done so already, you can register your pet in King County online.

When You Are Leaving

You should plan for where your pet will go when you leave. If you are staying with a friend or family member, can the pet come with you? If you are going to a shelter, does that shelter accept pets? There are many resources available to provide temporary care and boarding. Be careful not to dial using your personal phone number if you are worried it could endanger your safety.

King County authorizes short-term assistance to families in a domestic violence crisis by providing temporary care for up to two family pets for up to seven days. To be eligible, you must be referred by King County law enforcement, prosecuting agency, domestic violence unit, or a domestic violence support agency or shelter.

For long-term assistance, you may be able to plan to bring the pet with you. You can also apply for a grant to pay for the pet’s boarding. While domestic violence shelters may not allow pets, representatives can submit applications to RedRover, an organization with volunteers around the United States who care for pets whose owners are fleeing an abusive relationship. They award Safe Escape Grants, which pay for temporary boarding and veterinary care.

These are a few domestic violence shelters in King County that provide referrals for sheltering services for pets:

• King County Women’s Program, 206-205-5555

• Broadway Emergency Shelter & Transitional Housing, 206-299-2500

• LifeWire, 425-746-1940

Some of these shelters accept dogs. For the most up-to-date information, here’s a list of Washington women’s shelters accepting dogs.

When You Leave

Pack a bag for your pet that includes:

• The documentation listed above

• Food

• Medicine

• Leash

• Toys

• Bedding

Washington allows the court to include pets in protective orders and prohibit your abuser from having custody or control. Under Revised Code of Washington §26.50.060(1)(l), a court may order possession and use of “essential personal effects,” which is defined within the statute to include pets.

After You Have Left

• Change your veterinarian

• Change your dog parks, walking routes, etc. Be sure to walk somewhere safe where you are always visible to others.

• Keep your pet indoors with you as much as possible.

If you are unable to leave with your pet, ask for help from animal control officers or law enforcement if pets need to be retrieved. You should never reclaim pets alone.

STAY UP TO DATE

Subscribe to our newsletters

 
Subscribe to one or more of our newsletters, delivering meaningful insight on topics that matter to you and your family.
ebl home subscribe image

FURTHER READING

Latest Blog Posts

Gifting an estate plan is an act of love because an estate plan goes far beyond material possessions, addressing the emotional, practical, and long-term well-being of your loved ones.

Prenuptial agreements (also known as prenups) can play a pivotal role in safeguarding individual spousal rights in the event of divorce and can also strengthen a marriage.

Valentine’s Day can be tricky for single parents, maybe even you. Unpartnered, at least for the time being, you might not foresee your plans fitting into conventional images of the holiday. But that doesn’t have to be. Valentine’s Day, when you’re single, can be more than a day you need to survive. It can be a day to look forward to.

Collaborative law has evolved into a globally practiced
discipline, extending well beyond the realm of family law, and is used frequently in Seattle divorces.

Classifying January as divorce month could be misleading, given how some of the numbers tell a different story. However, one thing remains clear: January is a great time for a fresh start.

A family law attorney can help with child custody (residential time) by creating or modifying a parenting plan.

Given the importance of the trustee’s role in an estate plan, it is necessary to understand the responsibilities before choosing a trustee or accepting the obligation to become one.

If you and your partner reside in Washington state and are unmarried, you each might qualify for the legal protections availed to you by law by classifying your relationship as a committed intimate relationship.

One of the greatest gifts you can give your family is to build an estate plan while you are alive and well. Estate planning allows you to formally communicate your wishes so they will not be up for interpretation by…

A co-executor can help facilitate the distribution of assets, minimize conflicts, and provide much-needed support to grieving families.