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Dogs Trust Freedom Project recognised in Mayor's domestic violence awards.

Rosanna receiving award. Photo by Hayley Madden.

Unique pet-fostering scheme is honoured for ‘Increasing Safety’ in London

International day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women marked the launch of Mayor Ken Livingstone’s second London Domestic Violence Strategy. At the launch Deputy Mayor Nicky Gavron announced the winners of the annual Domestic Violence Awards, which honour organisations making a real difference to victims of domestic violence in the capital.

Dogs Trust who recently launched their Freedom Project after a year piloting the scheme in London was awarded for ‘Increasing Safety’. Awards were given in four categories ‘Increasing Safety’, ‘Holding abusers accountable’, ‘Reducing Social Tolerance’ & ‘Education children and young people’.

Dogs Trust Freedom Project temporarily places dogs with an experienced volunteer foster carer who cares for them in their own home. The owner is then reunited with their pet when the owner is in a position to have them back. During the foster placement, the Dogs Trust provides all pet food and veterinary treatment free of charge.

The awards recognised that the Freedom Project truly considered the obstacles that abused women face when trying to change their situation. Research has indicated1 that there is a link between animal abuse and domestic violence; men who are violent to women may threaten to harm or actually kill a beloved pet in order to intimidate their partner into obedience and silence, thereby using the pet to maintain power and control. Many women remain in a violent domestic situation simply for fear of what might happen to their pet if they flee without it, especially if it means having to separate children from their pet.

Nicky Gavron, the Deputy Mayor said:

'I am delighted that as part of this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women we were able to recognise the work that Dogs Trust have done.

'The safety award is about honouring an organisation that has truly considered the obstacles that abused women face when trying to change their situation. Knowing that their pet is safe and cared for is one less thing for a victim of domestic violence to worry about.

'I hope this award will encourage other organisations in the important work they are doing, and will help to show victims the wide range of care and support that is out there for them.’

As one Freedom Project Client said:

"Knowing that my dog is being cared for by The Dogs Trust Freedom Project has made things a lot easier for me and my children. It has been a really stressful time for us, but being able to leave my violent partner and knowing my pet will be safe and cared for was a huge relief".

The awards mean a great deal to the Freedom Project team who have worked so hard to make the scheme a success. The Freedom Project has now been extended to Yorkshire and the charity plans to increase the service when more funds become available.


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