About Us

Who We Are

Rancho Coastal Humane Society (RCHS) is a non-profit, 501(c) 3, located in Encinitas, California that has been serving the Southern California region since 1960. We are a professionally managed humane society that provides quality shelter care, adoption services, education programs and an award winning* Animal Safehouse Program
A victim of domestic violence is eligible to have their animal(s) placed in the ASP if they are seeking safety from a domestic violence situation and receiving counseling and support at a domestic violence shelter. Additionally, the owner must agree to have their animal spayed or neutered while in the program. The ASP is able to shelter dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, small animals and in some cases livestock. The pets sheltered in the ASP receive a health assessment, vaccinations, emergency medical attention, spay or neuter surgery (if applicable), microchip, food, shelter, exercise and playtime. Animals are provided with safe housing at the shelter or in some cases, a foster home. The length of the care begins with two weeks and extensions may be granted. The maximum length of stay is three months. These services are offered at no cost to the client; funding for the ASP is provided through private donations.

The Rancho Coastal Humane Society ASP is one of only 74 programs in the nation and is the only program offered to victims of domestic violence in Southern California. For more information about the Safehouse program call RCHS at 760-753-6413 or visit www.rchumanesociety.org.

*Awards: The ASP has received a Proclamation from the City of Encinitas, a Distinguished Service Award and Certificate of Achievement from the California State Assembly, and the Victims's International Center's Living Legacy Award.

Endorsements: San Diego Domestic Violence Council, the San Diego City Attorney, YWCA of San Diego, County of San Diego Department of Animal Services, County Board of Supervisors, and the San Diego Domestic Violence Justice Center.

Features: People Magazine


What We Do

The RCHS’s Animal Safehouse Program provides a support service to domestic violence shelters that are unable to accept pets. We provide temporary shelter for the pets of victims of domestic violence, allowing battered individuals to escape abuse and seek safety. Because of this assistance, no one is forced to choose between abandoning a beloved pet and staying in an abusive relationship. With our help, victims and their children can seek shelter, medical treatment and counseling, knowing their pets are safe.

We provide shelter for dogs, cats, rabbits, livestock, and reptiles, "pocket pets" (gerbils, hamsters, etc.); birds and we will attempt to accommodate other animals as needed.

The Animal Safehouse Program offers the following primary services:

Emergency Shelter:
Confidential temporary shelters for pets while their families seek safety themselves.
This program accepts referrals from any victim services agency.
Clients may self-refer if working with an agency, or if in possession of a Temporary Protection Order (TPO). Clients are required to be actively working to seek safety for themselves as well as their animals. Clients who do not meet these criteria will be provided with referrals to assist them in readying to access our program.
We can also assist with related needs such as transportation of animals to safety (both in-state and out-of-state), veterinary examination to document injuries, preventive/routine veterinary care, and treatment of illnesses and injuries.
We spay/neuter all of the animals and bring all vaccinations up to date and microchip them and do a dental cleaning for free.
We will also find a loving permanent home for relinquished animals

24-Hour Crisis Line
Available to victims and their representatives regardless of whether they are entering Emergency Animal Safehouse program.
We are often the first person they call when they decide to leave
Assistance with including pets in safety planning
Assistance with including pets in a Temporary Protection Order (TPO) to order abuser to stay away from pets or to provide law enforcement escort to retrieve pets left behind
Assistance with establishing proof of ownership of pets
Referrals to programs outside of the area
Referrals to other agencies and services

Professional Outreach and Community Education
Free training programs available for domestic violence agencies, law enforcement,
animal control, veterinarians, and other professionals serving the human and animal victims of domestic violence
Consultation to jurisdictions on prosecuting co-occurring animal cruelty and
domestic violence
Public awareness campaigns about the connections between animal abuse, child
abuse, partner violence, and elder abuse
We are looking to provide consultation to other agencies on establishing similar
programs in other areas

The Link Between Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse

* Domestic violence can occur anywhere; it crosses all races, all cultures and all socioeconomic backgrounds.

* Most U.S. households have pets, and pets are often considered part of the family. Recognizing the bonds between victims and their pets, many batterers threaten, harm, and even kill pets in the home in order to control, intimidate, and retaliate against their victims.

* Up to 71% of victims entering domestic violence shelters report that their abusers threatened, injured, or killed the family pets. Research indicates that pet abuse may be a red flag for increased severity of domestic violence and more controlling behavior by the abuser.

* According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, fewer than 1 in 8 domestic violence shelters is able to accommodate victims' pets.

* Abusers often threaten to harm pets if a victim flees. Threats toward a pet have also been used as effective ways to silence children from reporting sexual abuse.

* As many as half of all victims of domestic violence entering shelters report that they delayed seeking safety from an abusive situation because of concerns about what would happen to their pets.

* Victims who leave pets behind have been known to leave domestic violence shelters and return to the residence in order to attempt to reclaim or care for the pets.

* In addition to these safety risks to both humans and animals, witnessing pet abuse is traumatic to both children and adults. In a violent situation, a loving bond with a pet may serve as a vital source of support. Being forced to leave pets behind when fleeing abuse, especially with the knowledge that they may face further harm from the abuser, serves as an additional stressor at what is already a time of crisis.

* Children who witness pet abuse may go on to engage in animal cruelty themselves. Animal cruelty in childhood is a risk factor for interpersonal violence.


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