Freedom Project

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

Home Freedom Project Domestic Abuse and Pets: Our Research

Our findings from our research carried out into domestic abuse and pets...

Domestic Abuse & Pets Survey

We launched the Freedom Project in 2004, offering vital support for dog owners who are escaping from domestic abuse. More than 15 years since the launch, the service now operates in 29 counties across England and the whole of Scotland and has helped more than 1,500 dogs.

On the 15th anniversary of the project we carried out research to better understand the scale of abuse against pets within abusive relationships by polling professionals and practitioners who work with survivors of domestic abuse.

Worryingly, the main findings showed that almost half (49%) of professionals working in the sector are aware of domestic abuse cases where the pet has been killed. In addition to the physical abuse that pets may suffer, 97% of professionals said that they are also often used as a means of controlling someone experiencing domestic abuse. 

More than nine in 10 professionals (95%) also said that some survivors will not leave their home without knowing their pet would be safe.

Our other findings showed that:

  • 89% of professionals were aware of domestic abuse cases where pets had also been abused
  • 97% of professionals believed that threats to pets are used as a tool to attempt to coerce and control someone
  • 89& of professionals knew of cases where pets had been used as a tool for emotional abuse 
  • 59% of professionals knew of cases where pets, or an owner's ability to care for a pet, had been impacted by financial abuse

For more information on our research, including regional breakdowns, please contact us at freedomproject@dogstrust.org.uk


If you are fleeing domestic abuse and need advice and support, you can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 (UK) or Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline on 0800 027 1234 (Scotland).