Cats and dogs owned by people experiencing family violence will be given temporary accommodation at the Epping Animal Welfare Facility as part of a partnership between Whittlesea, Moreland and Darebin councils.
The RSPCA-managed facility will provide up to three weeks’ accommodation for cats and dogs, which will be funded by specialist family violence services.
In cases where funding is not possible, the costs will be covered by the three councils.
The cats and dogs will be cared for by the facility and foster carers during the three weeks.
Care will not be offered to restricted breeds or dangerous dogs, while other animals and extended timeframes will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
A report to Whittlesea council last Tuesday stated the temporary accommodation was necessary as pets could often not be taken into crisis accommodation or family violence refuges.
“Research reveals one in three women who had experienced violence from a partner had delayed leaving their partner because of fear for a pet’s safety,” the report stated.
“Threatening to harm or kill pets is a known method used by some perpetrators of family violence as a means to exert control over their partners.” The temporary accommodation policy was developed by the three councils in partnership with the RSPCA, specialist family violence support agencies including Safe Steps and Merri Community Health, and police.
Crime Statistics Agency data shows 3292 family violence incidents were reported to Whittlesea police between April 2018 and March 2019, up 8.3 per cent from 3041 reports in the previous 12 months.
In Moreland, 2107 reports were made in the same period, up 17.6 per cent from 1792 in April 2017-March 2018. In Darebin, police recorded 1804 incidents between April 2018- March 2019, up 7.8 per cent.