The following is a first-hand account from a client of RSPCA WA’s Pets in Crisis program. Names of people and pets have been changed to protect their identities.

When I first heard about the Pets in Crisis program I just broke down in tears.

It was over several years that my partner went from being a godsend to a complete nightmare. Eventually, he had a hold over me in every way possible – physically, emotionally and financially. We weren’t living together, but he would regularly show up unannounced. It didn’t matter if it was the middle of the night, or if the house was locked up, he’d find a way in. Every pay day he’d come over demanding money. And would just push and push until I gave in. He had me completely intimidated.

Eventually I was left with nothing – no money, no car, no furniture. And he was still showing up like a vulture trying to pick apart at whatever was left.

I couldn’t afford rent and was told I was being evicted. I remember the feeling of absolute despair. I was frantically trying to find somewhere for myself, my two kids, and our dogs, Buffy and Bandit, to live. All while keeping this person at bay.

I had no friends or family who were willing to take on the dogs so we could find temporary accommodation.

My son, who was 14 at the time, was sick with concern for the animals. He said he’d run away with the dogs and live on the streets, before giving them up.

When you feel like your world is falling apart, you do start to believe those things you’ve been told by an abusive partner. That you’re worthless and you don’t deserve anything.

To lose material things, and what you thought was love, is one thing. None of it matters in the end.

But animals are different… they’re special.

Buffy, in particular, was the glue keeping our family together. We’d had her since she was a puppy and she was absolutely like a therapy dog for us. I couldn’t bear to lose her after already losing so much.

It was just two days before the eviction when a support worker told me about the Pets in Crisis program, and I just broke down crying. It was an absolute lifeline. It was incredible.

Both dogs went into the program, and then we were able to secure short-term housing. While it was hard being without Buffy and Bandit, knowing they were safe and happy was an incredible comfort.

While in care they had all their vet needs taken care of, including sterilisation, vaccinations, dental work and microchipping, which was amazing.

Buffy was totally spoilt with toys and treats in her foster home. I received regular updates through the welfare agency on how the dogs were, and these would always reduce me to tears.

When I was having a bad day, and feeling like everything was too much, I’d get a little video of Buffy enjoying a walk, and it was like medicine.

I can’t thank the foster carers enough. The pressure it took off our family was massive, it was huge, and it made every bit of difference.

Unfortunately, real life isn’t a fairy tale and while we’ve managed to be reunited with Buffy, I had to make the heart-breaking decision to surrender Bandit due to a number of reasons. But I know he’s been adopted by a wonderful man who gives him all the love, attention and couch space he can handle.

The thought of getting Buffy back kept me going while piecing my life back together, and it motivated me to get us back on our feet.

Eventually I managed to save enough for a bond, and find a unit. I was honest with the owner about my situation, and he kindly agreed to let us have Buffy. It was a huge relief.

The day we got her back was like every Christmas and birthday wrapped into one. It was just what we needed. Getting her back healed us.


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