AN URGENT appeal is being made by the RSPCA to help pet owners who are the victims of domestic abuse.
The charity is currently ‘inundated’ with a record number of pleas for help from families fleeing domestic abuse and asking for someone to care for their pets.
The RSPCA runs a pet fostering service called PetRetreat which looks after cats and dogs belonging to victims of domestic abuse. Many people feel unable to leave a violent home as moving into temporary accommodation often means leaving their animals behind.
PetRetreat manager Carolyn Southwell said: “We need more foster homes to provide urgent help to people in this harrowing situation. We get so many calls but just don’t have enough fosterers.”
Former domestic abuse victim Tamsyn King has been fostering animals through PetRetreat for three years to help others in a similar situation.
“I endured longer than I would have done if it wasn’t for my pets as I simply couldn’t leave them behind with a violent man,” she said. “Being a fosterer is my way of supporting people going through the same trauma but also helping the pets who have to suffer in silence.”
The RSPCA says it is now handling nearly 100 calls a week from victims of domestic abuse but there are currently only 80 PetRetreat fosterers in England and Wales.
Domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid spokesman Teresa Parker said: “Women and children with much-loved pets face an additional barrier to leave, as they may fear for their pet’s safety if they are left with the abuser.
“It is vital there are services to foster pets in these situations, so women and children feel able to leave an abusive home knowing their pets are being looked after while they are using emergency refuge accommodation.”
l To help call 0300 123 8000 or visit www.rspca.org.uk/petretreat