PetSmart Charities supports pets in domestic abuse shelters

PetSmart Charities of Canada donate nearly $1million to support pets in abuse shelters.

In Canada, some 6,0001 women and their children sleep in shelters each night to escape abuse at home. Their pets could bring them care and comfort, but are often not welcome at domestic violence shelters. A movement is underway to change that. 

November is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Canada. While the campaign raises awareness for those in abusive relationships, many victims know that their abusers will retaliate and harm a beloved pet if they leave. PetSmart Charities of Canada continues to support removing this barrier, and also keep survivors and their pets together when seeking safety and shelter, and during other times of crises. 

As part of this commitment, the charitable organization developed the Preserving Families grant category in 2019. The funding was created to support programs aimed at keeping pets and people together when they experience domestic abuse, homelessness, hospitalization, health issues, or other life transitions. Over two years, PetSmart Charities of Canada will distribute grants totaling $925,000  to 11 organizations across the country. 

"The Preserving Families grants are designed to support innovative solutions to keep people and pets together no matter what life transition the family may experience, which includes intimate partner or domestic violence," said Dani LaGiglia, senior community grants manager, PetSmart Charities of Canada. "Many victims in crisis delay leaving out of concern for a pet left behind, but we hope to bridge that gap and help more shelters to welcome pets."

PetSmart Charities of Canada, the largest funder of animal welfare in Canada, provides critical funding to partners on the ground supporting the human-animal bond. According to one grant recipient organization, The Fam Network, 89 percent of survivors of intimate partner violence reported their abusers engaged in animal abuse. More than half of women, their research shows, delay leaving an abuser out of fear for their pet's safety. Grants such as these support building space for survivors to co-lodge with their pets, supplies, pet food and access to quality veterinary care.

"The FAM Network was created because of an abusive relationship that created an extremely difficult situation for our founder's daughter and her pet," said Dayna Desmarais, president & executive director, The FAM Network. "With no solutions available, the FAM Network was created as a foster-based program. With the help of grants through PetSmart Charities of Canada, and other donors, we have been able to begin expanding our services across Canada, opening new chapters to foster animals for survivors leaving an abusive relationship."

 Organizations that have received grants to help keep families together during times of transition include:

  • The FAM Network offers a foster program for pets while survivors of domestic violence seek safe shelter, so they can reunite later. The $60,000 grant will be used to help with the FAM Network expansion into Québec including, but not limited to, material translation, supplies procurement, veterinary expense coverage as well as staffing the Montréal branch. 
  • Paws for Hope in British Columbia provides crisis foster care for pets of marginalized people while they access help for themselves such as in-patient treatment programs. They will utilize their grant of $120,000 to expand their foster network of 44 homes to 75 in the BC Lower Mainland. The funding will also support the expanded network of community partners who provide "safe haven drop-off," where pets can be taken for confidential, safe and immediate care until transported to foster care. 
  • Fred Victor's Bethlehem United Shelter is Toronto's only long-term shelter that allows pets to stay with their owners. They will use their $80,000 grant funding toward resources and tools needed to appropriately house clients with their pets. This grant is anticipated to house 80 people and 25 pets over the next year and will also ensure that all pets in their care are well tended, fed, groomed and loved.

To learn more about PetSmart Charities of Canada, visit



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