Crisis can come in many forms. It can be financial or emotional, health or drug related, involve domestic violence and even natural disaster. However, comfort and sanctuary comes in many forms too, and for people in crisis, pets provide unconditional and unwavering support.
Pets are an important member of any family and the broader issue of finding refuge and shelter for both human and animal together effects much more than just the homelessness sector. There is a clear need to shift attitudes to honour the bond between pet and owner, regardless of the situation. The value of sustaining such a relationship is powerful – it provides security, therapeutic benefits and is a standing symbol of hope when all seems lost. And because of this, the importance of pets in times of hardship should never be underestimated.
Fortunately, there are few but still amazing organisations that make the effort to keep people and pets together. The Pets in Peril program by Animal Aid in Victoria to assist families experiencing domestic violence. In an ideal world, refuges would accommodate for the entire family (animals included), but sadly this is not always possible and Pets in Peril has been decided to care for beloved animal companions. Similarly, Safe Beds for Pets by the RSPCA supports families in domestic violence situations. This means families can leave dangerous situations and take the time to make arrangements for the future without fearing for the safety of their pets.
The demand for these kind of outreach services is increasing and while it is reassuring to know that services exist, we are still on our way to create a systematic solution that provides for both animal and human.