Dogs Trust issues urgent appeal for Yorkshire volunteers to foster pets of domestic abuse survivors

A specialist pet fostering scheme is urgently appealing for more Yorkshire hosts who can temporarily care for the dogs of domestic abuse survivors.

By Georgina Morris
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 4:45 am

The Dogs Trust Freedom Project has given foster homes to more than 850 dogs in the region since its launch in 2005, enabling abuse survivors to access safe accommodation without the fear of what may happen to their dog if they cannot take it with them.

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Demand for the service has soared this year, with a 59 per cent increase in requests from owners in need.

The Dogs Trust Freedom Project has helped to provide foster homes for hundreds of dogs across Yorkshire since 2005.

If all those asking for support are to be helped now and in the future, the charity needs to recruit more dog-lovers willing to acts as foster carers.

Regional project manager Sarah Petrov said: "Sadly, there is a strong link between domestic abuse and abuse to pets, with research showing that pets will often be used by a perpetrator as a tool to threaten or coerce their partners.

"This is incredibly frightening for survivors and can range from perpetrators stopping their partner from accessing vet care for their dogs or spending money on dog food, through to repeatedly threatening to harm, kill or ‘get rid’ of their dogs.

"As many refuges are unable to accept pets, survivors are understandably concerned about their dog’s safety when they need to escape.  

Volunteers must have some experience of caring for dogs. Picture: Dogs Trust/Clive Tagg

"We already have more than 50 fantastic volunteer foster carers in place in the region but we urgently need the dog loving public to come forward to volunteer as foster carers to help us support people and their pets when they need it most."

The Freedom Project is looking for volunteers who are at home during the day, potentially people who are retired or work from home.

They must have some experience of caring for dogs and be able to commit to fostering a dog for at least six months, although holiday cover can be provided. 

All pet food and the cost of veterinary treatment is covered by Dogs Trust.

Involvement in fostering through the project is always kept completely confidential to protect both the dogs and the foster carers. Dogs are not fostered within the area that the owner is from, and the foster carer will not know who the owner is or where they live.

One foster carer already working with the project said: “I would never have believed I could have done this. If you have time and space in your life to take this on, but are a bit hesitant, just think of it as ‘one dog at a time’.

"The Freedom team will offer any support and advice you need, and it's amazing how each dog will fit in and give so much back to you. Yes, some need more care and time than others, but that's just the same with us.

"I was nervous at first, but my confidence grew with each dog I had. I've had some real characters, and I’ve grown fond of every single one. I'm still amazed at how quickly most of them adapt to such a huge change in their lives.

"I keep a photo album of my various ‘house guests’, I love to look back and recall the fun I had with them."

Visit www.dogstrustfreedomproject.org.uk or call 0808 196 6240 for more information.