Leaving and what to do with the family pets

The information provided below is general information only. It does not replace advice and support from a domestic violence specialist.

Pets are part of the family and maybe an important part of your recovery process. Pets can also be at risk due to domestic and family violence and abuse. Research indicates that approximately 50% of women in violent and abusive relationships report that their abusive partner had also hurt or killed one of their pets.

Pets may impact your decision to leave

We understand that the welfare of a family pet can play a key factor in a survivor’s decision to leave abusive relationship. 33% of women who owned a pet delayed leaving a violent or abusive relationship because they fear the animal who has provided love and support when they need it most will be harmed.

Find accommodation for your pets

It is not always possible for women to take their animal with them when fleeing an abusive home, especially during a crisis. Animal shelters The RSPCA Queensland’s Pets in Crisis program  can find temporary housing for the pets of people entering a refuge. People entering refuge can bring their pet (cats, dogs, rats, lizards and more) to several RSPCA shelters across Queensland, where they will be cared for over a period of time, either in the shelter or with a foster family. If an animal shelter or pet-friendly refuge is not an option or something you are not comfortable with, speak to trusted friends or family.

Don’t remove pets too early

Finding accommodation for your pet when escaping a violent or abusive relationship is one part of a safety plan, however, removing a pet ahead of time could alert an abuser. If you are leaving your pet, either in temporary care or behind in the home, there can be a grieving process.

If you have a certified assistance animal, they are considered more than a pet and come under the Federal (Commonwealth) Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

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