DOGS Trust urgently needs dog foster carers in East Anglia after surge in demand to help people and their dogs fleeing domestic abuse.
Dogs Trust Freedom Project, a specialist pet fostering scheme run by the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, urgently needs more foster carers to temporarily care for the dogs of survivors of domestic abuse after seeing a surge in demand for its services.
Since being launched in the region in autumn 2020, the Freedom Project has provided foster homes for 57 dogs, enabling survivors to access safe accommodation without the fear of what may happen to their dog if they cannot take them with them. But this year the team have seen a 35% increase in demand from owners in need (1) and are appealing for more dog-lovers to become foster carers so the Project can support even more survivors.
Laura Saunders, Freedom Project Regional Manager, 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.
“We already have over 40 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.
Volunteer foster carer Sharon** says:
“The most rewarding part of being a foster carer is knowing that that you are helping not only the dog but their human as well. When you know how much they are missing their pet. We enjoy taking loads of photos that they can see to reassure them that all is well. The most rewarding is when your foster dog is on its way home. Envisioning the excitement when they meet up again, all the while knowing you have given them a loving home for a short time.”
If you think you can help or would like more information on the service, visit www.dogstrustfreedomproject.org.uk, call 0808 196 6240, or you can apply via our website https://www.moretodogstrust.org.uk/volunteer.