About SAF-T

History of the Program:

The concept for creating written guidelines for housing families and pets of domestic violence together was created by Allie Phillips in the late-1990’s when she was a frontline assistant prosecuting attorney in Michigan. One particular domestic violence case resulted in her complaining victim walking hand-in-hand out of the courthouse with her husband … all so that she could keep her two dogs and goat safe. This woman chose to stay in her abusive relationship after watching one of her dogs lose its life to violence. That case changed how Allie viewed victims of family violence. Unable to find any domestic violence shelters that would house pets, and no resources available, Allie knew something needed to be done and began developing guidelines for shelters to welcome family pets.

Research studies have shown that upwards of 48% of women refuse or delay leaving an abusive home out of fear of leaving their pets or livestock behind. The solution? Transform family violence shelters to allow pets on-site with their families!

After training criminal justice professionals on this solution since 2004, Allie launched the first and only national initiative to address this problem in 2008. At that time, only four family violence shelters in the country were known to house pets on-site with families. She published written guidelines to guide domestic violence shelter through the process of safely housing pets on-site with their families.


Now SAF-T is a global initiative with over 100 shelters in the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand allowing pets on-site. But with approximately 2,500 shelters in the United States, and additional shelters worldwide, more needs to be done to keep families with pets safe.

Sheltering Animals & Families Together (SAF-T) was launched to help families and pets find their way to safety. SAF-T is endorsed by Ahimsa House, Grupo para el Estudio de la Violencia Hacia Humanos y Animales, National District Attorneys Association, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Link Coalition, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Pets of the Homeless, RedRoverSafety Network for Abused Animals and People and VioPet.

Successful SAF-T Programs:

The foundation for a successful SAF-T programs rests on a few basic principles:

(1) The family violence shelter partnering with a local animal shelter or animal rescue organization. This partnership will help if the shelter is unable to care for certain pets, as well as providing general guidance about animal sheltering care.

(2) The family violence shelter partnering with a veterinarian. This partnership will allow for incoming pets to receive a physical examination, basic medical care, medical care for injuries sustained from abuse, or to provide to expert testimony in court regarding animal abuse.

(3) The family is the primary caretaker of their pet while staying at the family violence shelter. This alleviates concerns about residents and staff being injured by a stressed pet.

(4) Keeping SAF-T simple so that your shelter can successfully start and sustain the program to help families.

Down the SAF-T Start-Up Manual and learn how your shelter can protect more families today!

About the Founder of SAF-T:

Allie Phillips is an attorney licensed in Michigan and Maryland. She has significant courtroom experience as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney from Michigan handling family violence cases. While working as a prosecutor, she began volunteering in animal shelters and saw the connection between violence to people and animals. Subsequently she became a Senior Attorney with the National District Attorneys Association training on child abuse issues and creating a training program on the link between violence to people and animals and how to house families with pets after violence. Allie’s innovative work thrust her onto the national stage as she has championed the recognition of this “link” to prosecutors and other criminal justice professionals. Allie then joined the American Humane Association in 2007 as their Vice President of Public Policy and subsequently as their Vice President of Human-Animal Strategic Initiatives where she launched her innovative program on how to transform family violence shelters to welcome families with pets. Allie then returned to the National District Attorneys Association in 2011 where she founded and became Director of the National Center for Prosecution of Animal Abuse and was the Deputy Director and Interim Director for the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse.

Allie has been training criminal justice professionals since 1997 and has conducted over 350 trainings and published over 50 professional publications, including two books: Defending the Defenseless: A Guide to Protecting and Advocating for Pets (2011) and How Shelter Pets are Brokered for Experimentation: Understanding Pound Seizure (2010).

Allie’s professional and volunteer affiliations include:

  • Liaison to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence;
  • Advisory Group for the Association of Professional Humane Educators;
  • Advisory Council to Denver Pet Partners;
  • Council Member of the Michigan State Bar Animal Law Section;
  • Executive Board of the National Coalition on Violence Against Animals;
  • Advisory Group for the National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse;
  • Steering Committee for the National Link Coalition;
  • Senior Advisor to the White Coat Waste Project;
  • Vice President of No Paws Left Behind;
  • Co-Founder of Michiganders for Shelter Pets;
  • Co-Founder of Friends of Ingham County Shelter Animals;
  • volunteer and past-president of King Street Cats;
  • volunteer with Capital Area Humane Society.

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This guide is a must read for anyone who loves pets and wants to get involved to make their lives better.

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Pound seizure continues to be America's dirty little secret. This book is a must-read for anyone who loves animals.

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