By: Jennifer Hutton MSW, RSW
Women’s Crisis Services have been working closely with the Kitchener Waterloo Humane Society to provide an important service for both our shelter and outreach clients.
Research well documents that women stay in abusive relationships approximately two years longer if they have a pet, due to two factors; 1) they worry that the pet may be harmed in their absence and 2) the bond is too strong for them to leave without their pet.
Pets can become one of a number of barriers that women face when making the decision to leave the abuser. Women’s Crisis Services strives to address and reduce as many of these barriers as possible. Partnerships play a key role in this regard.
In collaboration with the Kitchener Waterloo Humane Society, a pet fostering program is now in place. This program helps women by providing a safe temporary placement, for their beloved pets), by arranging for their pet (s) to stay in a home with a foster family. This is ideal, as the pets do not need to be caged during their time away, but rather are placed in an environment similar to their own homes.
The program was piloted in April 2015 and shortly after the success of our first pet placement, the program was officially launched. Since the inception of the program, pet fostering services have been provided to five clients, which has resulted in placement for 13 cats and dogs.
Time was also invested time into training staff at both agencies, so that workers understand each other’s roles.
To date, the costs associated with running the fostering program have been picked up by the Humane Society, with some in-kind support from pet suppliers. The Humane Society not only recruit the foster placements; they also ensure the animal(s) have health and behavioural screening and check that the pet (s) have the necessary veterinary care prior to be being placed with a family. They also provide spay and neutering free of charge to our clients’ pets who are fostered.
Thank you to the Kitchener Waterloo Humane Society for being an amazing partner!