Project Title: Dogs Trust Freedom Project
The link between domestic abuse and animal abuse is proven. Of the 157 domestic abuse professionals we have surveyed in Scotland, 97% confirmed that perpetrators use pets to coerce and control someone. 96% of professionals said that, in their experience, some survivors will not leave their home without knowing their pet would be safe. Sadly, most refuges are unable to accept pets.
In 2004, Dogs Trust launched its Freedom Project in England, and a grant from the RS Macdonald Charitable Trust has now helped this work to be brought to Scotland. The Freedom Project provides foster homes for dogs and enables survivors to access safe accommodation without the fear of what may happen to their dog if left behind. Dogs Trust offers this service as many refuges are unable to accept dogs, so this important service gives pet owners the opportunity to escape abuse, confident that their dogs will also be safe and well cared for.
Whilst their owner is in temporary or refuge accommodation, the Freedom Project team will send photos and a written update to the owner each month, to reassure them that they are safe and happy. Dogs are fostered for an average of six months, and the majority are then returned to their owner once they have secured new housing.
The service in Scotland has grown and now has two bases and the ability to take more referrals, with volunteers based across Scotland. It has become well connected with domestic abuse services and is continually raising awareness or the link between domestic abuse and pet abuse.