Communities and Justice

I have pets and I'm experiencing domestic violence

Pets are a part of the family. You and your children may be worried about leaving behind your beloved dog, cat or other pet. Perhaps the refuge or safe place you are going to doesn't allow pets. And this may be what's stopping you from leaving a domestic and family violence situation.

Unfortunately, in homes where there is domestic and family violence, violent partners can use the threat to harm or kill a pet as a way to lure family members back home, or force them to stay. Hurting a pet is also a way of hurting a partner. But there are things you can do.

What you can do

Here are some ways to keep your pets safe while you find a safe place for you and your family:

  • consider leaving your pet with a friend or a neighbour you trust
  • take your pet to a local vet, boarding facility or animal rescue group for safekeeping
  • some shelters may allow you to take a pet with you – ask if it's an option or contact the RSPCA to ask where pet-friendly shelters are located
  • contact the RSPCA through the Community Domestic Violence program (see below) about temporary care for your pet
  • if you are the registered owner of your pet, consider updating registration and contact details with the council and flag your situation.

The RSPCA Community Domestic Violence program

The RSPCA's Community Domestic Violence program provides short-term and emergency housing and care for your pet while you find a safe place to stay. The program used to be called 'Safe beds for pets' but while the name has changed the goal hasn't: helping you and your pet stay safe.

Your details and those of your pet are kept confidential and pets are kept in a secure location, away from the general public. Once you are in safe place, the RSPCA will reunite you with your pet as soon as possible.

The service is offered at a low cost depending on your circumstances and the services you use. Financial help is available to cover transport costs and any veterinary treatments.

For more information about the Community Domestic Violence program, call the RSPCA helpline. All calls are answered in Sydney but the service is available throughout NSW, including regional and country areas.

RSPCA Community Programs helpline
02 9782 4408 Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm or
02 9770 7555 on weekends and public holidays

Last updated:

09 May 2023