The capital fundraising campaign to create a new North York Women’s Shelter just received a boost thanks to a $40,000 grant from PetSmart Charities of Canada. The grant has been earmarked to fund the construction of on-site dog and cat housing rooms, an outdoor dog run, a sanitation room for pet feeding, grooming and laundry and a lounge where pets and their families can bond and play. The project has been aptly named A Kennel for HER—HER being an acronym for healing, empowerment and refuge.

Canadian research by Dr. Amy Fitzgerald, an associate professor at the University of Windsor’s Animal and Interpersonal Abuse Research Group, has shown that some form of animal abuse is present in up to 89 percent of domestic violence cases.  And yet, only a handful of women’s shelters in Canada are equipped to take in the companion animals of their clients.  This gap in the system forces many women to delay leaving their abuser due to fear of what may happen to their pets.  

“A kennel for HER will enable women experiencing violence to seek a safe refuge for themselves, their children and their beloved pets—so that no one is left behind,” says Mohini Datta-Ray, Executive Director at North York Women’s Shelter. “For years, we’ve witnessed our clients struggling with the difficult decision of leaving a much beloved pet in a potentially dangerous situation, and we’re committed to ensuring that having a pet is never a reason to stay in an abusive relationship or home.  We’re immensely thankful for this donation from PetSmart Charities of Canada and for their incredible and critical understanding of the complex dynamics of intimate partner violence.

While best known as a leading funder of animal welfare, PetSmart Charities of Canada is also committed to supporting projects that help keep people and pets together. “To protect all victims of violence, it’s imperative that the animal welfare, veterinary and social services sectors work together,” says David Haworth, DVM, Ph.D. and president of PetSmart Charities of Canada. “Companion animals provide one of the greatest sources of comfort following traumatic events, and we’re pleased to play a small role in keeping survivors of violence and their beloved pets together with this grant to North York Women’s Shelter.”

Opening in late summer 2019, the new North York Women’s Shelter will increase its capacity to care for women and children experiencing abuse by 30 percent and will be the only pet-welcoming shelter in Toronto. The federal and provincial governments have invested $9 million in funding for the new accessible and pet-friendly shelter. An additional $3 million is being raised through community fundraising campaign that will help to furnish and outfit the shelter. 


PetSmart Charities of Canada finds homes for nearly 20,000 cats and dogs each year. The newest member of your family could be just a click away.