A Safe Haven for Pet Families Exposed to Domestic Violence

Safe Haven Grey Cat with Golden Retriever

Safe Haven is a Santa Barbara Countywide program that assists domestic violence survivors and their companion animals. We do so in collaboration with several animal welfare partners and social welfare agencies, including Domestic Violence Solutions. C.A.R.E.4Paws helps facilitate free, anonymous refuge for animals so that an owner can leave an abusive partner without fearing for the safety and well-being of a family pet. Our goal is to reunite animals with their owners when the time is right. 

How it Works

Dog and cat silhouettes in sunset

C.A.R.E.4Paws provides immediate, temporary sheltering for animals through loving foster families and boarding partners. Our program is free and anonymous and we reunite animals with their owners when the time is right. While in the care of C.A.R.E.4Paws, all animals have access to free veterinary services, such as vaccines, spays/neuters and dental cleanings, as well as animal behavior training. ​Read more in our latest Safe Haven press release.

How to access our services

If you’re already working with an agency such as Domestic Violence Solutions or the District Attorney’s Office Victim-Witness Assistance Program, let an agency advocate know that you have a pet(s) and you will be referred to C.A.R.E.4Paws. Law enforcement can also refer clients to C.A.R.E.4Paws. 

If you’re seeking help independently, please contact us directly:

[email protected]

If you and/or your pet are in immediate danger, please call 9-1-1 right away. C.A.R.E.4Paws collaborates with local law enforcement and they will help connect you and your pets to our Safe Haven services. 

Why Our Program is Critical 

woman with dog

Every minute of every day, 20 people are abused by an intimate partner in the United States, reports the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Sadly, during the current COVID-19 crisis, domestic violence is even more prevalent. Pets are often used as “pawns” in domestic violence situations. Abusers will harm a family pet and/or make threats to hurt or kill a pet to keep family members from speaking up or leaving the abusive relationship. In surveys of women entering domestic violence shelters, as many as 85% reported that their pets had been threatened, injured, or killed by their partners.

Most local domestic violence shelters are not able to accept pets (unless the pet is a registered service animal), which means that many pet owners stay with their abusive partners as they do not want to leave their animals behind.

Up to 65% of family violence victims stay in or delay leaving an abusive home out of fear something will happen to the animal when they are gone. Studies show that women stay an average of two years longer in a violent situation when family pets are involved.