About Safe Havens

What are safe havens?

Safe havens are sheltering services available in an area that help individuals experiencing domestic violence place their companion animals out of harm’s way so that they may seek safety for themselves as well as their animals. The Safe Havens Mapping Project was established by the Animal Welfare Institute in 2011 to create a national directory to help people find these facilities.

Safe havens operate differently from community to community. Some rely on networks of foster care homes. Others use the additional kennel space of a local humane society or veterinarian. In some cases, domestic violence shelters house victims and pets together, either in the same area or in dedicated kennel space at the domestic violence shelter.

They can be independent nonprofit organizations or formal partnerships between domestic violence agencies and animal agencies or groups. Depending on the local arrangement, family members may be able to visit their pets while they are in safe-keeping. How long a pet may stay in a safe haven again will depend on the local arrangement. Confidentiality of the pet’s location is highly guarded in order to protect the pets and their family members.

Where are they?

Until AWI established the Safe Havens Mapping Project, there were only incomplete directories of safe havens—sheltering services that could accommodate the pets of domestic violence survivors. The Safe Havens Mapping Project addressed this through an integrated, comprehensive state-by-state directory of safe havens. The entities included in the directory, which is subject to ongoing refinement and updating, either provide sheltering services for the animals of domestic violence survivors or have a relationship with an entity that does.

About the Animal Welfare Institute

Since 1951, AWI has been alleviating suffering inflicted on animals by humans. Through engagement with policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public, AWI seeks to protect companion animals from cruelty and violence. AWI actively pursues partnerships with other organizations to offer resources, programs, and policies that address the important relationship between animal cruelty and family violence. AWI also works collaboratively with other groups that address all forms of interpersonal violence, e.g., the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the Battered Women’s Justice Project, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Please note that the Animal Welfare Institute is an animal protection organization and is not equipped to provide direct assistance to domestic violence survivors. We strongly encourage anyone experiencing domestic violence to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 for immediate assistance. The National Network to End Domestic Violence is another vital resource, with coalitions in every US state, territory, and the District of Columbia that can direct domestic violence survivors to services in their area.

Who is the Safe Havens for Pets team?

The Safe Havens for Pets project was created by Dr. Mary Lou Randour (retired). Currently, the team includes Claire Coughlin, the coordinator of the Animals and Interpersonal Violence Program at AWI, Valerie Peña, the safe havens communications coordinator, and Megan Novinski.

Request a Presentation:
Our team members are available to provide presentations about safe havens for pets, and the link between animal abuse and interpersonal violence. We welcome the opportunity to provide tools and trainings for other organizations. To request our services, please complete this Training Request Form.

Our Impact Since April 2021

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Last updated on 5/7/2024