Charity urges people to ‘borrow a dog’ – and help victims of domestic violence

The Dog’s Trust charity is calling for people in the North East to help foster dogs whose owners are in danger.

If you’ve always wanted a dog but can’t keep one full time, this charity has a solution for you – which could also be a lifeline to people fleeing domestic violence.

According to rescue charity The Dog’s Trust, fostering a dog can be a great alternative for animal lovers who can’t give long-term commitment for a pet.

Through their Freedom Project, they’ve asked volunteers to offer short-term refuge to the dogs of people escaping violent or abusive homes — and they’re looking for more volunteers in Northumberland, County Durham, and Tyne and Wear, where they’re growing the project.

For a dog-lover, the prospect of leaving their beloved pet could be heartbreaking, making it even harder to get away from a dangerous situation.

But most refuges aren’t able to take in dogs, so abuse victims may struggle to find somewhere safe for their pet. According to the trust, research indicates a strong link between animal abuse and domestic abuse, with men who are violent to women, in particular, often threatening or harming a pet in order to intimidate their partner.

That’s where foster carers can come in, accepting a dog into their own home, and looking after it until its owner is settled and can take it back.

Once such foster carer, who the trust refers to only as Susan, has volunteered with the project since 2011.

She said: “I have met so many amazing dogs during my time working with Dogs Trust Freedom Project and would urge anyone that is interested in fostering a dog, to get in touch with the team.

“The average time the dogs spend with me is around 6 months. They are often worried when they first arrive but to see them develop into a confident and contented ‘guest’ is very rewarding.

“Whilst I never meet the owners of the dogs I foster, it’s wonderful to know that I am helping them leave a difficult situation, all whilst ensuring they have peace of mind that their dog is safe.”

Clare Kivlehan, head of outreach at the Dogs Trust, said:“The Freedom Project wouldn’t be possible without our dedicated team of foster carers like Susan, but we are always in need of more volunteers.

“The more foster carers we have on board, the more dogs and their owners we can help. For many people in a domestic abuse situation, their dog is often the reason why they feel they cannot flee.

“Knowing that their four legged friend is cared for in a loving home allows them the freedom they need to escape to safety.”

If you’re interested in volunteering, visit or call 0800 083 4322.