A DOG rehoming charity is urgently seeking foster carers to temporarily care for the pets of  domestic abuse survivors.

Dogs Trust Freedom Project, a specialist pet fostering scheme, has had a surge in demand for its services this year. 

Since being launched in 2004, the Freedom Project has provided foster homes for almost 900 dogs in London and the South East, enabling survivors to access safe accommodation without the fear of what may happen to their dog if they cannot take them with them. 

This year the team has had a 43 per cent increase in demand and is appealing for more foster carers so it can continue its work.

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. 

The Argus: Volunteer foster carer PipVolunteer foster carer Pip

“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 around 170 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. 

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 the website.