There are growing calls to make it easier for pet owners in the ACT to be able to flee from domestic violence.
Domestic violence advocacy groups and animal welfare organisations are calling for more animal friendly emergency refuges as well as emergency accommodation for pets while their owners are seeking new housing.
Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS) reports an average of two families per month seeking emergency accommodation due to domestic violence who also have pets.
While DVCS is able to accept families with small animals into emergency accommodation, long-term refuges are unable to accept pets, with many forced in boarding kennels or RSPCA shelters.
Alanna Davis from DVCS said a lack of pet-friendly accommodation could mean victims of domestic violence thinking of leaving abusive relationships could reconsider their actions due to them not being able to look after their pets.
"We know that pet ownership is a barrier to leaving for a variety of reasons including concern over the safety of the pet if the pet's safety has been threatened, and concern that the pet might not be cared for if the person leaving is the primary carer," she said.
"The refuges in Canberra are, unfortunately, not equipped to take pets. This means any woman leaving our emergency accommodation into a refuge is not able to take their pet with them."
While programs are in place in other states that offer emergency accommodation to pets while their owners flee domestic violence, similar programs aren't in place in the ACT.
The NSW RSPCA offers a Safe Beds for Pets program which provides temporary accommodation, while this week the Victorian government offered a $100,000 investment for the Pets in Crisis program.
RSPCA ACT chief executive Tammy Ven Dange said the organisation regularly receives requests for emergency boarding.
"As an animal is not deemed a sentient being, but rather property in the eyes of the law, it can generate problems for people fleeing violence, particularly when many human shelters cannot accommodate pets," she said.
"We have limited space and resources but understand that there is an undeniable link between the perpetrators of domestic violence and animal abuse."
Natarsha Lawrence is the president of Rainbow Paws, which provides temporary and subsidised accommodation for pets while their owners flee from domestic violence.
The organisation was started in August 2016, after Ms Lawrence saw similar set ups in other parts of Australia and wanted to bring the idea to Canberra.
She said the number of requests for temporary accommodation for pets was increasing rapidly.
"Sometimes people put their own safety at risk because they don't want to leave their pets and don't want them to be in danger," she said.
"Pets in these situations can be used as weapons and it's a horrible thing.
"If [pet owners] know they have somewhere to go, they are more inclined to leave. Pets are part of the family and they don't want to leave them behind."
Talks are underway between DVCS and local catteries and boarding kennels in order to come up with a solution to the problem.
"We're discussing the gap in emergency care with pets, and we're trying to come up with strategies on how to deal with it," Ms Lawrence said.
National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service: 1800 737 732