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Anova London in the process of developing pet policy

Anova London is in the process of developing a policy allowing residents to bring their pets in to stay with them at the shelter.

Breann Glasier | Interrobang | News | February 1st, 2019

Anova London, a recent merger of Women’s Community House and Sexual Assault Centre London, is in the process of developing a policy to allow residents to bring their pets in to stay with them at the shelter.

The organization currently operates two emergency shelters, a second stage geared-income apartment building, and a 24-hour crisis line for women and children affected by violence, abuse, and/or sexual assault. In addition, Anova offers other critical services for residents such as accompaniments, support services, and family court help.

Jessie Rodger, executive director at Anova, explained the main reason the organization has started to develop the policy is because it can be hard for people to flee abuse if it means they have to leave their pets behind.

“There is data coming out that women are fearful to leave an abusive situation because of their pets,” Rodger said. This fear delays or prevents women from leaving domestic violence situations as they often believe they have no choice but to stay for their pet’s safety.

Another reason behind developing the policy is to get people to look at violence against women in a different way. The implementation of the policy will help to educate the general public about different types of abusive situations, especially those involving pets. “Abusers often manipulate using animals,” Rodger explained.

The policy, once complete, will be piloted at the Clarke Road emergency shelter. However, the process of developing and implementing the policy requires Anova to consider and address many factors.

Safety of the residents, cultural differences, allergies of staff and residents, vet bills while in shelter, and ensuring pets are properly vaccinated are among some of the factors Rodgers said need to be addressed before the policy will be able to take effect. There will also be parameters set to designate what kind of pets can be taken into the shelter.

In an effort to ensure safety of all animals and peace of mind for residents, Anova has looked into a fostering program for the pets that may not meet the criteria for being brought into shelter. This involves finding suitable family/friends to take care of the pets, or even using a local shelter.

Even though the policy is not in effect quite yet, the general public has been receptive. “The feedback has been positive so far,” Rodger said. “Lots of animal lovers are on board.”

Although there is no set date for when the policy will be implemented, Rodger is hopeful it will be in the near future. “We are still figuring out the details,” she said, “but it will hopefully roll out by early spring.”
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