The WA Pets in Crisis program has been expanded to the South West after the state government announced $1 million towards the program.
The announcement is part of the 16 Days in WA campaign to stop violence against women.
The Pets in Crisis program offers a temporary home for animals from households experiencing family and domestic violence while their owners seek refuge or temporary accommodation of their own.
Under the program, pets are placed with short-term foster families in confidential locations, giving their owners peace of mind that their pet will be safe and well cared for while they focus on their own safety.
Prevention of family and domestic violence minister Simone McGurk said individuals and families would often put off fleeing a violent situation due to concerns regarding the safety of their pets with one study reporting 35 per cent of women delayed seeking refuge for this reason.
"The Pets in Crisis program run by RSPCA WA not only ensures that animals are protected, it encourages women who are experiencing family and domestic violence to seek help," she said.
"Pets play such an important role in our families, but unfortunately perpetrators can exploit that connection with threats and intimidation, which can prevent women from fleeing a violent household."
The Department of Communities has been supporting the Pets in Crisis program since 2017.
"While dogs are the most common pets cared for through the program, there has also been a rich assortment of other companion animals supported during this time including cats, chickens, guinea pigs, rabbits and even a pair of rainbow lorikeets," Ms McGurk said.
RSPCA WA Chair Lynne Bradshaw congratulated the government on its commitment to expanding the program to the South West and Great Southern.
"Domestic violence affects all family members, including pets. 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," she said.
"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."
The announcement coincides with day nine of the 16 Days in WA campaign, which promotes community awareness and challenges views that can prevent victims of family and domestic violence from seeking help or assistance. It also seeks to put an end to behaviours that allow victim blaming to occur.
More information on the campaign, which has a theme of 'Don't be silent when you see violence' in 2021, and the campaign kit with a list of 16 ways to take action, is available online.
If you need to contact someone about a violent family situation call:
- Men's referral service 1300 766 491
- Kids helpline 1800 551 800
- Lifeline 13 11 14