Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence


Service Animals in Domestic Violence Shelters

During the past few years, the subject of service animals coming to domestic violence shelters has been a hot topic whenever shelter managers, staff and volunteers get together. There are always interesting stories to be heard at these gatherings - some of them funny, some of them horrifying, and some just plain strange.

Communal living situations are always hard, and introducing service animals into the mix can create more complications, conflicts and confusion. This document is divided into three sections with the goal of minimizing confusion, providing a framework for addressing conflicts, and embracing complications as an integral part of advocacy.

The three sections of the document are:

  • Basic information about service animals and the people who use them;
  • Basic information about the laws that apply to domestic violence shelters and service animals;
  • Suggested policies and procedures for domestic violence shelters regarding service animals.

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