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APRIL 2021

Hello <<First Name>>,

Welcome to the fourth edition of our Canadian Violence Link Coalition (CVLC) newsletter.

Good news! – Judicial training on the Violence Link (Bill C-3) 

We are pleased to announce that, Bill C-3, An Act to Amend the Judges and the Criminal Code, passed through the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in early April, and the Committee has accepted Humane Canada's proposal to include training on the violence link for the judiciary. 

The co-founders of the Animal and Interpersonal Abuse Research Group (AIPARG) at the University of Windsor, Dr. Amy Fitzgerald and Dr. Betty Barrett, witnessed at the Bill's hearing, and presented in part on our behalf. Dr. Fitzgerald is a member of the CVLC Steering Committee. 


Why is it important to include training on the violence link for judges? 

"First, it is essential that judges who will be deliberating in cases of sexual violence have a contextual understanding of its relation to domestic violence and other forms of violence in the home, including violence against companion animals. 

Second, animal abuse is part of the constellation of abusive behaviours enacted by perpetrators of domestic violence, domestic violence involving animal abuse, results in more severe consequences for survivors than domestic violence victims without animal abuse. 

Nearly 60% of Canadian households report having companion animals in the home, although this has certainly increased since the pandemic. Therefore, it is not surprising that pets are often present in the physical environment in which domestic violence and sexual abuse take place." stated Dr. Fitzgerald at the hearing.  

Dr. Betty Barrett added that "More severe and frequent abuse of animals was associated with more severe and frequent abuse of women by their partners, including sexual victimization. Approximately 1 in 8 survivors of physical domestic violence also experienced threats or an act of violence against their pets.

These are some of the many important reasons why including training on the violence link for the judiciary is imperative. 

Bill C-3 will now go on to Third Reading and if passed, it will become law. 

We will continue keeping you updated on every step on this Bill. You can also read more details about Bill C-3 on the Library of Parliament here. 

Enabling pet friendly women's shelters in the community

In February’s CVLC newsletter we highlighted the work of Saskatchewan SPCA’s regional Violence Link website, an initiative spearheaded by its executive director Frances Wach (also a CVLC steering committee member).   

Saskatchewan SPCA has collaborated with STOPS (Saskatchewan Towards Offering Partnership Solutions to Violence) and PATHS (the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan) to provide practical solutions for victims with pets who are fleeing domestic violence.  

STOPS is a provincial network of individuals and organizations from across Saskatchewan seeking to reduce interpersonal violence and abuse and PATHS is the member association for 24 agencies (such as women’s shelters, second stage shelters, and counselling centres) that provide intimate partner violence services across Saskatchewan. 

The goal of this collaboration is to create a template business plan which women’s shelters can use to advocate for funding to transform their spaces to accommodate pets.  By bringing together their expertise in sheltering animals, supporting women’s shelters, and reducing interpersonal violence, they are creating a structure which would otherwise not have been unachievable individually and which can be replicated from one shelter to the next. This is a great example of how cross sectoral collaboration can help address the Violence Link. 

SafePet Ontario - pet fostering in the community 

In Ontario, almost half of those experiencing violent situations delay leaving their partner or don't leave at all because they're afraid to leave their pet behind at the hands of their abuser. To help people and pets find safety sooner, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association established the SafePet Ontario program in 2003. 

SafePet Ontario enables survivors to focus on their transition to safety by offering short- or long-term placements for their companion animals. Pets participating in the program will be placed in loving homes with experienced foster families that can provide care targeted to a pet’s needs. SafePet animals also have access to professional veterinary care, which they receive at the time of intake and that foster families can access in case there is ever an emergency during their stay. Once a survivor feels they are ready, SafePet Ontario will reunite them with their beloved pet so that they can move into a better future together.  

To support survivors and pets in transition, SafePet Ontario relies on a network of volunteers, including pet foster families, veterinary teams, law enforcement agencies, and human and animal shelters. Equipped with a learning platform, custom integrated database, and streamlined intake process, SafePet Ontario has worked alongside individuals from these essential groups to establish a robust network spanning the province of Ontario. In addition, through ongoing awareness and education initiatives, cross-sector collaboration, SafePet Ontario continues to build upon its strong, provincial-wide network to support the growing demand of those in need. 

By joining the SafePet Ontario network, you can help survivors and their companions live a life free from violence. If you are interested in learning more, getting involved or starting your own program in your province, visit safepet.ca. For more information, contact Tammy Merritt, SafePet Ontario Provincial Manager, at tmerritt@ovma.org

Violence Link Training for Bylaw and Animal Control Officers

Louise Lathey, Outreach Specialist in Violence Prevention at BC SPCA and Co-Chair of the CVLC Steering Committee has created a short training course on the violence link at Langara college, specifically tailored for Bylaw and Animal Control Officers. Louise's part of the “Animal Control Training” Course contained the following units: 

(1) What is the violence link?
(2) Domestic violence and animal cruelty, and
(3) Case study exercises. 

The current program is coming to an end but for future programs visit www.langara.ca/pets or email kramsden@langara.ca.   

CVLC Awareness Campaign 

Back in February, we put out a call to professionals in the sectors that we will be targeting this year for the CVLC awareness campaign, and we're grateful for the responses we received. We have had some very useful and insightful conversations! As a reminder the target sectors are: 

  • Animal welfare 

  • Animal protection enforcement/animal control enforcement agencies/bylaw enforcement    

  • Gender-based violence sector   

  • Healthcare workers (such as nurses)   

  • Educators (such as teachers)   

  • Police  

  • Social services including eldercare agencies, child protective services, mental health services  

  • Victim services 

  • Judiciary   

  • Veterinary  

We will be sending out surveys to professionals within these sectors, and the results from these surveys will inform the key messaging in the awareness campaign. Dr Kendra Coulter, Dr Amy Fitzgerald and Louise Lathey have provided significant input into this project via the CVLC Awareness Campaign Working Group, and we are very grateful for all their hard work and energy!

We need YOUR help in getting the survey out to as many people as possible. If you are able to assist us in disseminating the survey within your sector and/or able to suggest organisations/professional bodies etc. that we should be approaching, please get in touch: hannah@humanecanada.ca

 Violence Link Conference - Call for Abstracts now open!


This year’s National Violence Link Conference will be held online on Thursday November 4th and Friday November 5th and the Call for Abstracts is now open.

The 2021 conference will focus on how stakeholders (including from the following sectors: police, prosecution, animal enforcement, animal welfare, veterinary, social services, anti-violence, victim services etc.) can work together to achieve an integrated, holistic response to Violence Link cases.

Presenters will provide deep insights into the Violence Link and will share their experiences, explaining how their work and practices are affected by the Violence Link, along with any practical solutions that may be replicated elsewhere. We would like to hear from all stakeholders whose work intersects with the Violence Link, and are particularly interested in hearing from animal care professionals (including veterinarians) and social service professionals.

Please consider submitting an abstract!

A special half day workshop will be hosted for stakeholders working in Ottawa on Friday November 12th. Those with knowledge and/or experience within this region or whose presentation could be of interest to Ottawa stakeholders are asked to please contact Hannah Brown Criminal Justice System Reform Program Manager at hannah@humanecanada.ca
 
Apply to Present

Upcoming Events

The Canadian Violence Link Coalition is part of the Criminal Justice System Reform (CJSR) Program at Humane Canada. We will be hosting the following CJSR related events this year:

You can find out more about the CJSR Program and these events here and here

The Ottawa Community Foundation is a public, non-profit organization created by and for the people of Ottawa. It connects donors who care with causes that matter and serves as a trusted resource for addressing issues and leveraging opportunities in the community. It attracts and manages a growing endowment, the invested earnings of which provide grants to charitable organizations.

The Foundation’s role is as neutral broker in support of all charitable causes that contribute to the community’s quality of life. With a growing profile, the Ottawa Community Foundation has built an enviable reputation for astute financial management, high-quality donor services, strategic grantmaking and innovative partnerships. For more information, visit www.ocf-fco.ca.

Thank you to Tammy Meritt, Frances Wach, Louise Lathey, Crystal Giesbrecht (PATHS) and Tracy Knutson (STOPS) for their input into this month’s newsletter. 

Share your news!

The purpose of this newsletter is to share news of Violence Link initiatives from across Canada, whether it be a webinar, bespoke training, a foster program, a regional coalition or anything else Violence Link related. By doing this we are able to inspire thought and action, leverage synergies and create change.

If you have a violence link related story to share, please get in touch with Hannah Brown, CJSR Program Manager at hannah@humanecanada.ca.

Thank you for your time <<First Name>>.

Stay safe and well, 
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