A Mobile phone dialing the 24 hour National Domestic Violence helpline.

What about pets?

Many women and children are forced to stay with violent partners because they feel they can’t leave their pets behind. Research shows that there is a link between animal abuse and domestic violence: men who are violent to women may threaten to harm or kill a beloved pet in order to intimidate their partner.

The Links Group is a multi-agency group that promotes the welfare and safety of vulnerable children, animals and adults. Members include leading associations and charitable organisations. As part of The Links Group, some charities offer pet fostering services specifically for pets belonging to women fleeing from domestic violence.

For many women and children who leave violent relationships, the options open to them regarding their pets are very limited. The services listed below ensure that pets are cared for in a volunteer foster carer’s home until their owner is able to be reunited with them. All placements are strictly confidential.

PO Box 50208, London EC1V 7XP

Tel: 0800 298 9199

Email:  freedomproject@dogstrust.org.uk

Website: www.dogstrust.org.uk

Areas covered: Greater London and Hertfordshire

PO Box 185, Leeds LS11 1AL

Tel: 0800 083 4322

Email: freedomproject@dogstrust.org.uk

Website: www.dogstrust.org.uk

Areas covered: All of Yorkshire

Pets fostered: Dogs Trust will only arrange foster care for dogs over the age of six months under this scheme. Temporary care for cats can also be arranged with Cats Protection through the Freedom Project in Greater London and Hertfordshire only.

How to access scheme: Referrals are taken from agencies and/or direct from the owner, provided they supply confirmation that they are fleeing domestic violence – eg. a letter from social worker, police domestic violence unit or temporary housing provider.

The process: A Dog Information Form asking specific details about the dog’s habits and behaviour must be completed by the client before a suitable foster home can be found. A legal contract also has to be signed by the owner. Dogs that behave aggressively will not be considered for foster placement.

Food/vet expenses: All veterinary costs will be paid by Dogs Trust. If a dog is not neutered or vaccinated this will be carried out as soon as possible. Dog food and any canine equipment is also provided by Dogs Trust.

Length of placement: Foster placements are for an average of 6-9 months whilst women are waiting to be rehoused. Arrangements can be made to rehome the pet through one of the charity’s centres if the owner decides she is unable to take it back after this time.

PO Box 329, Bolton BL6 5FT

Tel/Fax: 01204 698 999

Email: info@pawsforkids.org.uk

Website: www.pawsforkids.org.uk

Registered Charity No. 1084861

Areas covered: Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside.

How to access scheme: Referrals can be taken directly from women fleeing domestic violence or from refuges, helplines, police domestic violence units, Social Services, Victim Support, housing advice centres, hospitals and clinics etc.

The process: A form must be completed with the pet’s details, including: vaccination/neutering status, pet’s size, breed, behavioural problems, socialisation with other animals and children, and details of any equipment owner is providing.

Pets fostered: All domestic pets – dogs, cats, small furries, birds, fish etc. Referrals for un-neutered cats and dogs are only accepted with the owner’s agreement to neuter.

Food/vet expenses: Owners are asked to contribute towards the costs of food and any veterinary treatment their pet may need.

Length of placement: Pets are fostered for the length of time women are in a refuge/hostel, the average being 4-5 months.

Re-homing: If a pet is unclaimed or woman leaves the refuge and does not notify the charity, the pet will be re-homed via local sanctuaries.

RSPCA Regional Headquarters

Black Hat Lane, Exeter, Devon EX2 9TA

Tel: 07715 540182

Email: petretreat@rspca.org.uk

Website: www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/helpandadvice/petretreat

Registered Charity No. 219099

Areas covered: Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Avon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Berkshire, Surrey and Isle of Wight.

How to access scheme: Referrals for established family pets, from any agency providing the person is going into a refuge and confirmation is supplied.

The process: Pet Acceptance Form to be completed at collection point. Including: vaccination/neutering status, pet’s size, breed, behavioural problems, socialisation with other animals and children. There is a 10-day assessment period in which time all veterinary treatment is carried out.

Pets fostered: They will endeavour to foster any established family pet.

Food/vet expenses: Owners are requested to make a contribution to these costs.

Length of placement: This is, on average, six months.

PO Box 60, Peterborough, PE1 5SZ

Tel: 07910 721797

Email: petretreat@southwitham.com

Website: www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/helpandadvice/petretreat

Areas covered: Leicestershire, Rutland and South Lincolnshire.

Tel: 0844 811 9909

Website: www.pfss.org.uk

Registered Charity No. SCO15672

Areas covered: Scotland