Pet Safekeeping for Domestic Violence Victims

Tim Battle
Director of Education, Alberta SPCA

Animals – both pets and livestock – play an unwilling role in family violence situations, as illustrated by a growing body of research. Many victims of domestic violence remain in abusive situations out of concern for the safety of their pets or livestock, keeping both people and animals at risk.

Two years after we began caring for pets of domestic violence victims, our award-winning program has adapted and grown in numerous ways. Guided by a multi-disciplinary advisory board, we are increasing our scope to include more types of animals, a larger geographic area, and many more referring agencies. Protocols and processes have been rewritten to accommodate new situations as awareness of the program has increased. Opportunities for legislative reform have arisen out of this program as the connections between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence become more widely known outside of the animal welfare community.

Key Learnings:
1. Current and relevant information about the connections between animal cruelty, domestic violence, and child abuse;
2. A clear understanding of why this type of work is important for animal welfare organizations;
3. Practical knowledge of the steps to be taken and pitfalls to avoid when establishing this type of initiative.


Tim Battle
As Director of Education for the Alberta SPCA, Tim Battle oversees development and delivery of humane education programming that engages students of all ages and levels. He also works with law enforcement, social services and other agencies on issues related to the connections between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence. In 2012 he founded the Alberta Alliance for the Safety of Animals and People (AASAP), the award-winning, multi-disciplinary advisory group that guides the pet safekeeping program.