With Saskatchewan having the highest rate of domestic violence of any province – programs to support victims of violence are crucial. The Saskatchewan SPCA will be hosting a series of three webinars hoping to educate many on the importance of animals in the healing of victims and animal abuse being an early indicator of other forms of abuse.
Laura Zmud, the family ties coordinator with the Saskatchewan SPCA, believes that many victims of violence stay in dangerous situations because the province lacks safe spaces for victims and their pets.
“It’s a huge barrier to people leaving their domestic violence relationship if they do not have a safe space for both them and their pet to go. Many victims stay in dangerous situations much longer because of this. The research has shown that it is impactful to have animals with their families.”
The webinars are focused on three different audiences, ranging from human service providers and care workers to shelters and the general public.
One area in which the public could be better educated – is learning to recognize the link between animal abuse and domestic violence. Something Zmud says is directly connected.
“There is a link between animal abuse, domestic abuse, child abuse, and elder abuse. The research shows that if one of those is happening – the other parties are at risk. If there is an animal being abused, children are at risk. If you do see one kind of abuse happening, there may be other forms happening. It really can be the tip of the iceberg”.
Security and comfort for survivors of domestic violence are essential, and it’s crucial for the healing of the victim and the animals in question. The human-animal bond is undeniable, and in many instances, homing victims and their animals is the best possible solution.
“Rehoming animals and victims will do nothing but shorten the period of abuse and will allow for a quicker path to healing. Victims often return to their abusers with a higher degree if the animal stays in the abusive home.
The Saskatchewan SPCA and the Provincial Association of Transition Houses hope this program will assist shelters that want to become more pet friendly.
For more information on this program, please visit www.saskspca.ca