Animal Advocates Watchdog

The Violence Link Project: Here is What the SPCA is REALLY Doing

We decided to put the BC SPCA's Violence Link Project to the test. We waited three months from the time of the press release, to give the program a chance to get up and running, then we phoned all the organizations included in the list of partners on the project. We did this in February of 2004 and were not surprised to learn that in every case the BC SPCA had no real support in place for victims of violence. There were no foster homes available for the pets of abuse victims. We were consistently told by SPCA Head Office and branches that we checked with that it didn't "have the resources". All the BC SPCA could offer was for the victim to surrender their pet to the SPCA (and an unknown fate), or in some cases, the victim could pay the SPCA to board their pet. When we informed the partners in the project of this, most were shocked and surprised, and some were a little angry.

We generously waited another three months before posting our findings, in the hopes that given six months from the date of the press release, the BC SPCA would have the program up and running, and that victims of violence would by now be able to turn to the Society for the help it claims to give, but alas, the results were the same.

Here are our findings when we telephoned the list of partners:

1. VictimLink...1-800-563-0808 We phoned Feb. 28 2004. VictimLink is located in Vancouver. They have no SPCA brochures. They told us to phone the SPCA emergency line at 879-7343.

May 18, 2004 we phoned again. They know of no SPCA program to help victims with placement or fostering of their animals. They reported that the SPCA would accept an animal but that one would have to pay. We asked if payment was boarding fees, but the person we spoke to was unsure.

2. BCSPCA...1-800-665-1868 We phoned Feb 19, 11:30 a.m. and spoke to Peter. This is a head office phone number. We said that a friend was in an abusive relationship: that her partner was violent to her, the children and the dog. We asked what the SPCA can do for her. Peter told us that all they can do is take her dog if she surrenders it. No, the SPCA does not have a list of transition houses that take animals. We can get a pamphlet on violence at any SPCA. No, the SPCA does not have any resources for dealing with violence toward families and animals as it is a non-profit organization and does not have the resources. (Note: there is no guarantee that a surrendered dog won't be killed or sold to a bad owner, so of course women are very reluctant to take advantage of the SPCA's generous offer.)
Feb 23/04 We phoned the SPCA emergecy number, and were told that the SPCA does not provide board or fostering to the pets of women escaping violence. Suggested that we ask a friend, board, or put in day care, or surrender.

May 18, 2004 we phoned again and were told that the SPCA has "no resources" to help the animals of victims of abuse. We were given two options: board our dog at the West Vancouver SPCA boarding facility (we were told that if we explained our dilemma we MIGHT receive a reduced rate) or surrender our dog to the SPCA, where it would be put up for adoption. We asked whether the SPCA had a list of transition houses that accept pets, and were told no, they didn't, and that we should phone a transition house and ask them.

3. BCVMA...1-800-463-5399 This site has no search function and we couldn't find anything by browsing. We phoned and spoke to Gwen (Feb 19, 11:45 a.m.) who told us that the SPCA will foster pets until the owner can take them back. She was very surprised when we told her that they will only take surrendered pets. The BCVMA has its own glossy pamphlet, but no list of transition houses that take pets and no fostering program.

May 18, 2004 phoned again. This time the person answering had no idea at all who would be able to help.

4. BC Institute Against Family Violence...1-877-755-7055 On this site we only found four-year old material, so the SPCA has been spinning this one for a long time. Feb 23/04 Spoke to the Referral Co-ordinator who told us that the SPCA will foster dogs and to phone it or the BC/Yukon Society of Transition Houses.

May 18, 2004. We phoned the BC Institute Against Family Violence and spoke to Jenny, who was "disturbed" to hear that the BC SPCA had offered us only surrender or board for our dog. She told us that this was not the first time that someone had told her that the SPCA would not foster their animal while they sought temporary refuge. Jenny stated that it was everyone's understanding when the organizations (BC SPCA, BC VMA, BC Society of Transition Houses, and BC Institute Against Family Violence) collaborated to produce the program and pamphlet that the BC SPCA would provide free temporary care for the animals of abuse victims. She was markedly upset to hear that this was not in fact happening, stating "Well there's something not right there, that's not how it was supposed to work." She then gave us the number for the BC SPCA 's Education Department in the hope that it could shed some light.

5. BC/Yukon Society of Transition Houses...604-669-6943 Spoke to the Office Manager who did not have a list of transition houses that take animals and did not know much about the Violence Link Project. There may only be one transition house in the lower mainland that takes pets.

We also tried phoning a few transition houses not located in Vancouver, just to see what they could tell us about SPCA availability.

In Victoria:
Victoria Women's Transition House: SPCA not considered a resource. Their resources are Greater Victoria Animal Crusaders for vaccines and Central Victoria Animal Hospital for two weeks free board.

Hill House Transition House: SPCA is not considered a resource. Their resources are Greater Victoria Animal Crusaders for vaccines and Central Victoria Animal Hospital for two weeks free board.

Sandi Merriman House: SPCA is not considered a resource. Their resources are Greater Victoria Animal Crusaders for vaccines and Central Victoria Animal Hospital for two weeks free board. Nana Foundation sometimes boards.

From the BC SPCA's web site:
According to a US study, 71% of pet-keeping women who enter protective care report their partner threatened, abused or killed a family animal.

The BC SPCA along with the Victim Services Division of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, the BC/Yukon Transition Houses, BC Veterinary Medical Association and the BC Institute Against Family Violence have launched an innovative program to increase awareness about the animal-human violence link and to promote more effective cross-reporting between law enforcement, animal care and social service agencies in British Columbia

The information will be distributed through brochures and workshops in the hope of bringing a broad public awareness to the issue. The goals are to create a procedure for cross reporting by all agencies involved and to provide a refuge and protection solution for the pets of women and children seeking the safety of a transition house.

Three brochures have been developed to be widely distributed by organizations helping victims of violence. Each brochure is targeted toward a different audience. One is for animal care professionals, the second is for victim service workers and judicial personnel and the third if for victims of abuse, to encourage them to use the support services available to them. (*See links below for the downloadable/printable PDF versions of these brochures)

The project also includes joint workshop training. Participants of several BC agencies and organizations dealing with violence on the front lines (both animal and human violence) will attend regional workshops to learn more about the link and to share information on identifying signs of abuse. From this they will create a procedure of cross-reporting that will enable victims to receive attention and prevent further violence.

We can only conclude that the Violence Link Project is just another exercise in SPCA media spin. The brochures, the press releases, the claims of partnership and workshopping and sharing with the community...all are part of what the BC SPCA seems to do best - promoting itself for its own benefit. The victims of violence and their pets are still left up the creek without a paddle.

Messages In This Thread

The SPCA's Violence Link Project: Helping Victims of Violence? It Sounds Good on Paper But is the SPCA really DOING Anything?
The Violence Link Project: Here is What the SPCA is REALLY Doing
Where is the Compassion? SPCA Spokesperson Lorie Chortyk Implies that a Victim of Violence Lied.
Kamloops SPCA Employee Equates Women Who Are Victims of Violence With Criminals
We Can Only Conclude That the Violence Link Project is Another Example of SPCA Spin Doctoring
if these transition houses and official women's support groups knew that there really wasn't anything being done by the BCSPCA, they would be more inclined to create something themselves
Thank you AAS. You're saving the public from being fooled again.
SAGE Transition House on the North Shore accepts pets with women fleeing violence