SHELTERING AND FOSTER SERVICES
Shelter Our Pets provides services to people who are actively fleeing or have recently fled an abusive environment and need temporary shelter for their pets. We assist those seeking safety from violence by providing alternatives to giving up a beloved pet, leaving a pet behind in a potentially dangerous situation or continuing to subject themselves and their pets to abuse. Shelter Our Pets provides a specialized service, offering loving care and housing to pets of abuse victims, either with a foster family or at an area kennel, until they can be reunited with their owners.
To qualify for Shelter Our Pets’ services, abuse survivors can be referred to us through domestic abuse organizations, shelters and outreach programs or they can be referred to us through a police department, social worker, attorney or other approved organizations at the time of intake into our program. Survivors can also contact Shelter Our Pets directly through our hotline at 973-506-9696. Being pre-qualified through your local domestic violence agency will help expedite the application process. Every applicant will need to be qualified through a series of screening questions and may be accepted on a case-by-case basis.
Participation in the Shelter Our Pets program requires the completion of a variety of paperwork, including a Shelter Our Pets program application, a pet personality profile, veterinary care authorization and liability release. If an animal is accepted into the Shelter Our Pets foster program, the animal(s) will be matched with a temporary, confidential foster parent, area kennel or other care provider. All canines are required to pass an evaluation prior to being accepted into our program and placed in a foster home. It is important for all applicants to be able to show proof of pet ownership or inclusion of a pet in a restraining order.
As part of the Shelter Our Pets program, participants are encouraged to have their pets up-to-date on necessary vaccinations and having proof of such. If the participant is unable to vet the animal prior to entering the program, Shelter Our Pet can provide routine veterinary care from participating group vets, at low cost or no cost to the survivor. The routine veterinary care provided (some of which depends upon the condition of the animal), includes a physical examination, certain vaccinations, de-worming medication, flea medications/treatment, and spay/neuter surgery.
It is the goal of the Shelter Our Pets Program to place animals in a foster home setting. However, there are situations where, due to safety or health issues, an animal is not an appropriate candidate for a foster home. Before placing an animal into the Shelter Our Pets program, the animal must be evaluated by Shelter Our Pets volunteers to ensure that animals placed into foster care do not present a danger or risk to their foster parents. Animals that cannot be safely placed into foster care may still be admitted into the Shelter Our Pets program, at our sole discretion, but may be sheltered at a confidential kennel location or pet sitting service.
Our mission is to serve both abuse survivors and their pets. Although there are a wide variety of reasons why persons may need temporary shelter for animal companions, such as homelessness or joblessness, we are unfortunately unable to help persons that are not currently victims of domestic abuse.
Shelter Our Pets serves the state of New Jersey and beyond and applicants must be receiving shelter or other services from an affiliated domestic violence shelter or program at the time of intake. We accept animals into the Shelter Our Pets program based on a variety of factors, including screening of the applicant and the availability of a foster home. The Shelter Our Pets program reserves the right to determine, at its sole discretion and in collaboration with affiliated domestic violence shelters and programs, which persons and animals it will (or will not) accept into the Shelter Our Pets program, and may terminate participation in the Shelter Our Pets program at any time, for any reason.
The identities of domestic abuse victims using the Shelter Our Pets program are not released outside of the Shelter Our Pets program, or any partnering or affiliated agencies without express written authorization of the domestic abuse victim. While participating in the Shelter Our Pets program, domestic abuse victims may receive updates regarding their animals. However, for safety reasons, the victim and their animal companion will not have any contact with one another during the shelter period. Likewise, the victim will not have contact with the Shelter Our Pets Foster Parent or other care provider for safety reasons for all concerned. All communications regarding the wellbeing of the animal occur through staff of partnering agencies, again, for safety reasons.
Length of Stay
The domestic abuse victim must renew participation in the program every 30 days, for a maximum period of 90 days. The victim can request to reclaim their animal at any point, and will be reunited with the animal as soon as possible. Thereafter, arrangements will be made to either release the animal back to the victim, or, if the victim chooses, to relinquish the animal to Shelter Our Pets or an affiliated shelter or rescue group. Due to resources, the Shelter Our Pets foster program cannot keep animals in shelter for more than 90 days. Therefore, the 90-day shelter period is strictly enforced to ensure that program resources are available to a variety of domestic abuse victims.
The goal of the Shelter Our Pets program is to reunite the domestic abuse survivor and their animal companion(s) at the conclusion of the shelter period. Sometimes a survivor may, for a variety of reasons, return to living with the abuser. Research shows that on average it takes a domestic abuse victim seven attempts to leave the abuser. Barriers to leaving an abusive relationship include, among other things, the emotional trauma of the abuse, lack of resources (both financial and other), and continued fear for their safety, the safety of children, and the safety of household pets. The purpose of Shelter Our Pets foster program is to provide temporary, confidential shelter for animal companions during the most dangerous period in the cycle of abuse – when their human companion has found the courage to leave the abuser, even if only temporarily.
In cases where the owner decides they can no longer keep their pet, the owner may surrender the pet permanently to Shelter Our Pets, a shelter or rescue group. Shelter Our Pets will also partner with area rescue organizations and shelters and may choose to surrender the animal to one of those organizations.
In addition to our foster care program, Shelter Our Pets can also provide survivors with information on the following resources:
- Pet boarding or kenneling referrals
- Fostering through rescue groups
- Referrals for veterinary care
- Training and behavioral modification help
- Breed specific rescue organizations