Peterborough and Cambridgeshire dog owners fleeing domestic abuse receive support from new project

A Dogs Trust project that offers a temporary home for dogs to enable their owners to flee domestic abuse has begun helping people living in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Sunday, 30th May 2021, 3:30 pm

Pets can be a major factor in people not being able to escape domestic abuse for fear of what may happen to their beloved companions if they are left behind.

Dogs Trust research showed that almost half (49 per cent) of professionals working in the sector are aware of cases where the pet has been killed. With many refuges also unable to take animals, Dogs Trust’s Freedom Project offers dog owners a vital lifeline.

The recent launch in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough means the service is now available to those who need it across the whole of the East of England, and so far it has supported survivors in the county by fostering seven dogs.

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A Dogs Trust project that offers a temporary home for dogs to enable their owners to flee domestic abuse is helping people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

There are 10 foster carers across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, but more are needed.

Sarah Rowe, Freedom Project co-ordinator for the area, said: “Alongside suffering physical abuse, we know that dogs are also often used by perpetrators as a means to coerce and control 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.

“We appealed for people to apply to be Freedom foster carers in October; the response was amazing and we’ve already been able to help 30 dogs and their owners escape from domestic abuse.

“We now have 60 fantastic new volunteer foster carers in place across East Anglia and are ready to take in dogs at a moment’s notice if needed. Thanks to them, we can continue our life saving work.”

A spokesperson for the Cambridgeshire IDVA Service said: “I referred a client and her animal to Dogs Trust’s Freedom Project, a specialist pet fostering service for survivors of domestic abuse.

“The application was a success and my client is now safe in temporary accommodation and her beloved dog is in foster care. She is safe in the knowledge that her dog will be well looked after and she will get him back once she is in more secure, permanent housing.

“Knowing her dog is safe will give her the emotional strength to continue her journey, allowing her to focus on herself.

“The process was really straightforward and the Dogs Trust Freedom Project staff were really understanding and knowledgeable - this was very re-assuring for my client.”

Support for survivors of domestic abuse can be found at: https://www.cambsdasv.org.uk/website/home.