Living with pets in a violent domestic situation often means an impossible decision — leave them behind or stay in a dangerous situation. But upgrades to a women and children’s refuge on the NSW Mid North Coast may provide a solution to the dilemma.
- Galbaan House in Port Macquarie now has room to house six pets, including dogs and cats
- Pets are often used in coercive control and wanting to protect pets can delay or prevent a woman leaving a domestic violence situation
- The NSW Attorney-General says a small percentage of refuges can take pets but he wants that to change
Galbaan House in Port Macquarie has just established facilities to house pets at the refuge.
CEO of Liberty Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Services, Kelly Lamb, said being able to take pets could mean at-risk women and children could leave earlier.
“Pets are often used by perpetrators in coercive control, to intimidate, manipulate or punish victim-survivors, and often a woman will stay in a violent situation or delay leaving to ensure the safety and welfare of her pet.”
Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Attorney-General Mark Speakman said a small percentage of refuges had the capacity to take pets but he wanted that to improve.
“We want to make sure that the need to accommodate companion animals is not an obstacle to victim-survivors fleeing dangerous situations.”
Liberty is one of 19 groups to share in $500,000 in state government grants under the Pets and Animal Welfare (PAWS) program, with the grants used to either enable refuges to house pets or for animal welfare groups to develop or improve facilities for pets of people escaping domestic or family violence.
“I’m not the treasurer, but I’ll be certainly badgering him for more in this area,” Mr Speakman said.
Other funding for Liberty’s facilities came from the Community Building Partnership program, RSPCA and PETstock Assist.
Source of wellbeing
Kelly Lamb said pets could also be a source of comfort after leaving a domestic violence situation.
“It definitely promotes wellbeing and safety,” she said.
Galbaan has room for two dogs, two cats and smaller pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs.