Safety Planning for Pets in a Domestic Violence Situation

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.

FURTHER READING

Latest Blog Posts

Death is a part of life. Like taxes, there's no avoiding it. Also, like taxes, you may not like thinking or talking about the subject. However, if you think about death and how to handle your remains from a planning…

Every child deserves love, stability, and consistency. Is there a child in your life that you have considered adopting, perhaps because they are the child of your spouse or a child you are fostering? Perhaps there is an adult in…

The thought of losing your home or its contents in a disaster is a scary thought. Loss of life, destruction of irreplaceable items such as home movies, photos, and heirlooms make it unconscionable. But as we know in life, sometimes…

Spoiler alert: If you’re doing everything around the house (or at work) because you’re living (working) with a bunch of incompetent fools, or so they’ve led you to believe they are, you’re being manipulated. So pervasive is this phenomenon, there’s…

If you've created an estate plan, you've already spent a good deal of time thinking about what will happen to you if you become sick, incapacitated, or die, including where you will go (literally) when you die. After all, you don't want your…

If you're 18 or older and live in Washington State, you can legally change your name to anything you want as long as you're not doing so to commit fraud. For example, if your goal is to change your name to evade…

Your estate plan should ensure your special needs child experiences the best quality of life they can, that the assets upon which they will rely will last as long as possible during their lifetime, and that their eligibility for public services will be maximized. Learn more.

Popular culture is using the moniker "America's daughter" to describe Gabby Petito because she could've been any of our daughters. Learn how to talk to your daughter about the signs of domestic abuse.

When a couple decides to divorce, and one spouse is unable to support themselves, spousal support becomes a hot-button issue. Learn how to mitigate conflict and move forward.

To date, 676,000 people in the US have died from COVID-19, many parents of minor children. Without a will there is no instruction on who should care for them. Make your wishes known, learn how.