Freedom Project

Providing temporary foster care for dogs belonging to families fleeing domestic violence

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Domestic Abuse & Pets

There is a strong link between animal abuse and domestic abuse, with perpetrators often threatening or harming a pet in order to intimidate and control their partner. In fact, many definitions of domestic abuse now include abuse of pets. 

We estimate that around half of the dogs we foster on the Freedom Project have been abused or threatened with abuse. The majority will have witnessed some form of abuse in their home. This can have an effect on the dog’s behaviour and confidence. 

When you foster a dog on the Freedom Project, we will always try to provide you with as much information about the dog as we can but the effects of abuse can manifest themselves in many ways:

Health – many perpetrators control all aspects of their partner’s life, including their freedom and their finances. Some owners will have been prevented from taking their dog to a vet so they may come onto the project underweight or with health problems. Once on the Freedom Project, we will ensure the dogs receive all the veterinary care they need. 

Behaviour – many of the dogs we foster are nervous when they first come onto the project. You may find that your foster dog is worried and sensitive to things like shouting and swearing – even on TV. They may also be more wary or fearful of men. Given time and understanding, their confidence will soon grow. 

Training – some dogs may have house training lapses for the first few days in their foster home due to the stress and upheaval they have experienced. Once they are settled in their foster home and feel secure, they will get back into a routine.

It’s important to remember that the dog and their family have been through a difficult and stressful time. With the help and support of our foster carers, they are able to leave an abusive situation and start to rebuild their lives.