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Safe Housing Program

Safe Housing Program

Started in 2002 to address the link between domestic violence and animal abuse.

It is an unfortunate fact that domestic violence and animal abuse often coincide. Sometimes, these occur simultaneously and in some instances, animal abuse is the method of spousal control and violence. As difficult as it is for a person to leave a violent relationship and enter a shelter, the decision can be made more painful when a beloved pet is left behind. Some people will choose to stay with the abuser and the pet rather than seek necessary shelter.

Similarly, people who have lost their homes may choose to stay in a car or on the streets because they are unable to keep their pets otherwise. At the Mario Pastega House, some people have declined services and delayed medical treatment because they did not have care for their pets. Others drove hours each day to continue caring for their pets.

Expanded in 2010 to address crisis in its many forms and serve more people and pets in need.

The Safe Housing Program serves the animal companions of people seeking assistance or receiving aid from local social service organizations. This program is designed to enable people to get the assistance they need in a crisis situation without worrying about the care of their pets.

How it Works

Our Safe Housing program provides free emergency boarding for up to 30 days. While in the program, Safe Housing pets receive medical care, proper nutrition, and enrichment, and their presence at the shelter is kept 100% confidential. All services are at zero cost to the client. Pets participating in Safe Housing are required to be up-to-date on vaccines, parasite control, and spayed/neutered. If the client cannot provide proof of current vaccinations, the pet is intact, or parasites are found, these services will be performed by Heartland Humane at no cost to the client.

Clients of this program must be in touch with one of our Partner Agencies, either already enrolled or utilizing the services or in the preliminary stages of getting the services.

Agency Advocates are responsible for all communication with Heartland Humane staff, including soliciting services, scheduling intake and outtake appointments, and requesting updates. Click here to view and download a complete explanation of Agency Advocate responsibilitiesThe Agency Advocate or other Agency representative is required to attend all appointments.

The Safe Housing Process

  1. The Agency Advocate will contact Heartland Humane to inquire if their client’s pet can participate in the program.
    • Please note that services cannot be guaranteed and are dependent on a variety of factors including available space in the shelter, our shelter’s ability to provide for the medical and behavioral needs of the pet, etc.
    • Advocates should gather as much information about the pet and it’s needs before calling to solicit services.
  2. If we can accommodate the Safe Housing request, the Agency Advocate will provide their client with the Safe Housing contract and ensure that it is completed correctly and in entirety.
    • Questions should be communicated via the Agency Advocate before intake.
  3. Once paperwork has been received, the Agency Advocate will contact Heartland Humane to set up an intake appointment.
    • Agency Advocates are required to attend appointments, including intake. In cases where this is not possible, exceptions can be made at Heartland Humane staff discretion.
  4. While the animal is in our care, the Agency Advocate may contact Heartland Humane to request and schedule visitation or solicit updates on the pet.
    • Visitation cannot be guaranteed as Safe Housing pets are housed in the private, working areas of the shelter and public access is not always appropriate or possible.
  5. No less than one week before the end of the contract, the Agency Advocate shall contact Heartland Humane staff to discuss the outtake plan and set up an outtake appointment for the client to reclaim their pet.
    • If necessary, Agency Advocates will attend outtake appointments (as requested by Heartland Humane Staff).
  6. If reunification is not possible by the end of the contract, surrendering the pet to Heartland Humane is possible.
  7. Pets that are abandoned at the shelter are the legal property of Heartland Humane and will be evaluated for adoption.

Questions can be directed to [email protected].

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