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.

Greater London and the Home Counties: 0800 298 9199
East Anglia: 0808 196 6240
Yorkshire: 0800 083 4322
North East: 0300 303 3497
North West: 0300 303 4139
Scotland: 0808 169 4315

Email: freedomproject@dogstrust.org.uk

Website: www.dogstrustfreedomproject.org.uk

Areas covered: Greater London, Hertfordshire, Essex, Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, East Anglia, Yorkshire, the North of England and Scotland

Pets fostered: Dogs Trust offers a free, confidential dog fostering service for people fleeing domestic abuse. Dogs are cared for by volunteer foster carers in their own homes until they are able to be reunited with their owner.

How to access scheme: Referrals are taken from agencies and/or direct from the owner, please get in touch to find out more about specific referral criteria.

The process: The owner will need to fill in a ‘Dog Information Form’ asking details about the dog’s behaviour, daily routine and likes and dislikes. This helps the team match the dog to a suitable foster home. Each referral is looked at on an individual basis, some dogs may be more sensitive than others or have more specific requirements which the team are more than happy to discuss.

Food/vet expenses: This is a free service; all food and veterinary costs will be paid by Dogs Trust. If a dog is not neutered, microchipped, or vaccinated this will be carried out as soon as possible once in foster care, Dogs Trust will cover the cost of this. Dogs Trust will provide all equipment that the dog needs while in foster care.

Length of placement: Foster placements are for an average of 6-9 months whilst owners are waiting to be rehoused. Arrangements can be made to rehome the pet through one of the charity’s centres if the owner is unable to take them 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.

Tel: 0844 811 9909

Website: www.pfss.org.uk

Registered Charity No. SCO15672

Areas covered: Scotland

Tel: 0345 260 1280

Email: pawsprotect@cats.org.uk

Website: www.cats.org.uk/what-we-do/paws-protect

Areas covered: London, Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Bedfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

Pets fostered: Cats Protection Paws Protect offers a free confidential cat fostering service for people fleeing domestic abuse. Cats are placed in volunteer foster homes, treated as a family pet until they are able to be reunited with their owner. Cats must be over 6 months of age.

How to access scheme: Referrals are taken from agencies and/or direct from the owner, provided they supply confirmation that they are fleeing domestic abuse and going into refuge/emergency accommodation – eg. a letter from social worker, police, support worker or temporary housing provider.

The process: The owner will need to fill in a confidential referral form and a cat intake questionnaire with details about their health, personality and behaviour to help the team reduce their stress and match them to the appropriate fosterer. In addition to this the owner will also need to sign a client service agreement which details their own as well as the services obligations. Cats will then be placed in one of Cats Protection’s centres for health checks before being placed with a volunteer foster carer.

Food/vet expenses: This is a free service, all food and veterinary costs will be covered by Cats Protection. If not already, all cats will be neutered, microchipped and vaccinated upon entering the service and all resources such as food bowls/ litter trays will also be provided by Cats Protection

Length of placement: Foster placements are for 5 months with the possibility of an extension to this on a case by case basis.