Safety Plan for Animals
The Safety Plan for Animals (SPAN) is a coalition of human and animal service providers. We have two goals:
- Provide temporary foster care for the pets of people who are elderly or disabled and who need a temporary stay in a hospital or nursing facility.
- Provide temporary foster care for the pets of people seeking emergency shelter from domestic violence.
This kind of safety net makes it possible for people to maintain one of their most cherished relationships—their bond with their pets.
Shelter from Domestic Violence
In 88% of households where domestic violence exists, animals are also being abused. With violence breeding violence, the family pets are often the most powerless victims. Many abusers use violence or threats against pets as another way to inflict pain and exert control.
For the human victims of such violence, seeking shelter used to mean having to leave their precious animals behind.
If you are considering seeking shelter from domestic violence and you do not want to leave your animals behind, plan ahead:
- Obtain proof that the animal belongs to you (veterinary records, a dog license, or a photograph of you with the pet, etc.).
- Bring along necessary medications, leash, collar, and identification tags.
- Be prepared to tell the SPAN volunteer about your animal’s behavior and eating habits. These details will help the animal make the transition into temporary foster care.
When you are ready to seek emergency shelter, inform the shelter staff that you have an animal who also needs temporary shelter. The staff will work with Dakin to locate an emergency foster home for your animals while they are admitting you to shelter.
To seek shelter from domestic violence in the Pioneer Valley, call Safe Passage toll free at 888-345-5282 or the New England Learning Center for Women in Transition (NELCWIT) at 413-888-249-0806 TTY.
Temporary Hospitalization or Nursing Care
For many elders living independently in our community, their cat or dog may be their closest daily companion. Preserving this bond, even in an emergency, is a priority of Dakin.
SPAN can provide temporary foster care for the pets of people who are elderly or disabled and who need a temporary stay in a hospital or nursing facility. Once the person is feeling better and is back in her home, SPAN volunteers return the animals.
If you are at risk of hospitalization or entering a nursing care facility, take the following steps to protect your animal friends:
- Make sure your family member, home health care provider, or senior advocate knows about your pets.
- Have emergency information about your pet posted on your refrigerator, including: the pet’s name, the type of food he prefers, the name of his veterinarian, and a list of any medications he needs.
Your first option for temporary care of your animal during your hospitalization or nursing care visit should be your friends or family. Be sure they have your emergency information sheet from your refrigerator.
If family or friends cannot care for your pet while you are away, contact Dakin at 548-9898 or info@Dakin.org.
Your family member, home health care provider, or senior advocate should be prepared to work with Dakin staff to complete paperwork admitting your animal to the SPAN foster care.
Becoming a Safety Plan Foster Parent
If you are interested in providing a safe, anonymous foster home for SPAN animals—from livestock and cats or dogs, to pocket pets like rabbits or gerbils—contact Lori Swanson, Humane Education/Outreach Manager at email@example.com or call 413-781-4000 ext: 112.
Safety Plan foster volunteers must undergo an application process and a home visit from a foster care screener. Because the demand for foster homes is intermittent, we keep foster parents on an on-call roster. All animals entering foster care will be brought up-to-date on vaccinations, appropriate disease screening, and neutering (if necessary and appropriate).
If you suspect that an animal is being abused, call the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Law Enforcement Hotline at 800-628-5808.