Defra Shadow Minister Visits Dogs Trust Leeds
Angela recently visited the Leeds Dogs Trust rehoming centre, where she was greeted on the day by a large number of VIPs (Very Important Pooches) The Shadow Minister for Animal Welfare made many new furry friends at the centre, including a litter of four-week-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppies and their proud mum,
Candy. Angela also discussed key dog welfare issues with front line staff at the rehoming centre, including the tenth anniversary of the charity’s Freedom Project. This project is an innovative pet fostering scheme providing vital help for people in Yorkshire, Greater London, and Hertfordshire fleeing domestic violence. Since refuges are largely unable to accommodate pets, many people remain in violent domestic situations simply for fear of what might happen to their pet if they were to flee without it. The scheme works by temporarily placing the pet at risk with a volunteer foster carer who will care for them in their own home until they can be safely reunited with their owner. The project has recently fostered its 1,200th pet.
Speaking following the visit, Angela said:
“I hugely enjoyed my visit to Dogs Trust Leeds. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to witness first-hand the work the staff at the centre do and meet some of the dogs being cared for. I was also very interested to hear more about the work that the wider charity engages in across my constituency and beyond, in particular the Freedom Project.
Domestic violence is a huge, under-reported issue in the UK, with thousands of victims suffering each year. There is not a single community that escapes this dreadful crime, my constituency included. For 10 years Dogs Trust Freedom Project has been helping families flee domestic violence by offering a safe haven for their pets. While legislation obviously has its part to play in such a serious issue, outreach work such as this in local communities is vital”.
The latest Freedom project statistics reveal that 52%* of the domestic violence clients using the service reported that their pets were also threatened or abused by a violent partner*. Dogs Trust is seeing more and more research and clinical evidence of inter-relationships, commonly referred to as ‘links’, between the abuse of children, vulnerable adults and animals. As part of the Links Group, Dogs Trust is working to raise awareness amongst all professionals in the hope that agencies will work together to help prevent related cases from going undetected. Until very recently this issue was under-reported in the UK but the charity hopes that moving forward the ‘links’ can be incorporated more fully into overall working practice.
Matt Howden, Dogs Trust Leeds Assistant Manager, adds:
“We were delighted to welcome Angela to Dogs Trust Leeds, where we introduced her to our wonderful canine residents – all looking for a home – and showed her the valuable work that we do for dogs and communities across Yorkshire and beyond.
We appreciated the opportunity to discuss our outreach work with Angela, and are very pleased that she is supporting our Freedom Project. This project plays an undeniable role in protecting the pets of people fleeing domestic violence across Yorkshire, and we are proud to be marking its tenth anniversary this month”.
If you are interested in rehoming a dog, please call Dogs Trust Leeds directly on 0113 281 4920, or drop into the centre at Woodlands Farm, York Road, Leeds LS15 4NL.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity and cares for nearly 17,000 dogs each year through its network of 19 Rehoming Centres across the UK and one in Dublin. For further details on the charity’s work please visit http://www.dogstrust.org.uk/ href="http://www.dogstrust.org.uk/">www.dogstrust.org.uk
*52% of the 154 responding clients on the Freedom Project said that their pets had been abused or threatened with abuse
Dogs Trust Freedom Project is an innovative pet fostering scheme providing vital help for people in Greater London, Yorkshire & Hertfordshire fleeing domestic violence (DV) and seeking refuge in temporary accommodation that can’t accept pets. Many people remain in a violent domestic situation simply for fear of what might happen to their pets if they flee without them.
The scheme works by temporarily placing the dog at risk with a volunteer foster carer who will care for that dog in their own home until they can be safely reunited with their owner:
During the foster placement the Freedom Project will cover the cost of pet food and veterinary treatment.
Total anonymity is assured, dogs will not be fostered in the area where the owner is from and the carer who fosters the dog will not know who the owner is or where they live.
Freedom Project staff provide help and support and each placement is monitored on a regular basis.
Owners receive updates on how their pet is doing whilst in foster care, reassuring them that they are being cared for until they are in a position to have them back.
In Greater London & Hertfordshire the project also accepts cats, working alongside Cats Protection, who will arrange fostering.
Freedom Project statistics
Since the project started in 2004 we have helped 1,200 pets find temporary homes whilst their families fled domestic violence. We have now successfully reunited 1,140 pets with their families.
Since the start of the project, Freedom has fostered 865 dogs and 345 cats (to 1 April 2014)
At any one time we have between 50 and 65 pets being actively fostered.
We have a total of approximately 80 registered volunteer foster carers who look after our dogs as part of their family.
Since the start of the project, staff have received a total of 3,742 referrals for fostering.
Domestic violence statistics (source, Refuge 2013)
1 woman in 4 (25%) is physically abused by a partner during her life-time (Council of Europe, 2002)
2 women are killed each week by a current or former partner (Homicide Statistics, 1998 - 2012)
On average, a woman is assaulted 35 times before her first call to the police (Jaffe, 1982)
In family households where domestic violence occurs, in 90% of incidents, children were in the same or the next room (Hughes, 1992)
In over 50% of known domestic violence cases, children were also directly abused (NSPCC, 1997; Farmer & Owen, 1995)
Every minute police in the UK receive a domestic assistance call (Stanko, 2000; Home Office, 2002)
Domestic violence accounts for 16-25% of all violent crime (Home Office, 2005)
Domestic violence has the highest rate of repeat victimisation of any crime (Home Office, 2002)
One in seven children and young people under the age of 18 will have lived with domestic violence at some point in their childhood (Radford et al, 2011)
Domestic violence costs the taxpayer £16 billion each year (Walby, 2009)
Links Group www.thelinksgroup.org.uk
Sally Wright/Rebecca Eighteen
Dogs Trust Press Office
020 7812 5273 / 020 7833 7692