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Albany pets in crisis program to help owners escape family and domestic violence

A program providing a temporary home for pets whose owners are fleeing family and domestic violence has been extended to the Great Southern.

The State Government-funded Pets in Crisis program aims to reduce the practical barriers which could prevent women and children from fleeing a violent home by working with the RSPCA to take care of pets.

Through a recommendation from a refuge, pets are placed with short-term foster families in confidential locations for about three months while they focus on finding stable accommodation and rebuilding their lives.

Since starting in 2017, the program has provided temporary care to more than 170 pets including dogs, cats, guinea pigs and birds.

As part of the 16 Days in WA to Stop Violence Against Women campaign, Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence Minister Simone McGurk visited Albany on Friday to launch the $1 million expansion of the program to Albany, Bunbury and Busselton for the next four years.

“The sad reality is that WA does have high rates of family violence and violence against women,” Ms McGurk said.

“It is there in our cities, it’s in our suburbs but it is also in our regions.

“In fact it is so prevalent that it is almost certain that all of us will know someone who has been impacted directly by domestic violence whether we know it or not.

“This is a program that recognises that sometimes there are very practical barriers to women, often women with children, deciding whether to leave a violent relationship and they can be really practical issues including what to do with a family pet.”

RSPCA WA board chair Lynne Bradshaw said there was a clear demand for the program in regional WA.

“Domestic violence affects all family members, including pets,” she said.

“Pets in Crisis not only gives human victims peace of mind about their animals, it also provides a safe haven for the pets of violent households, who are often abused or threatened with abuse.

“RSPCA WA is aware of the increased number of calls in the region from refuges looking to support their clients who are pet owners, and from women themselves who refuse to leave a violent situation unless they can take their pets with them.”

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