Column - Carlie Mesquitta writes on behalf of the Dogs Trust Freedom Project

Volunteers would look after a dog until it can be reunited with its family.
Volunteers would look after a dog until it can be reunited with its family.

The Dogs Trust Freedom Project is urgently seeking volunteer foster carers in the East Yorkshire area.

Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, is appealing to dog lovers in Pocklington to help families with children fleeing domestic abuse, by volunteering to foster a family dog at risk.

One in seven children and young people under the age of 18 will have lived with domestic abuse at some point in their childhood and recent statistics reveal that roughly two thirds of women living in a refuge had a child or children with them at the time of the survey.

Dogs are often a huge part of these children’s lives and to lose them at such a traumatic time can be devastating.

Most refuges are unable to accept dogs so for many families fleeing domestic abuse, it can be a heart-breaking decision to leave their four-legged friend behind.

Thankfully the Freedom Project, an innovative pet fostering scheme providing vital support for people fleeing domestic abuse in Yorkshire, helps by placing the dog at risk into the home of a volunteer foster carer who will care for them until they can be safely reunited with their loving families.

Since the Yorkshire scheme began in 2005, the charity has successfully placed around 600 dogs in foster care, helping around 500 families flee an abusive situation. More than 80% of the families helped by the project have children.

Michelle, who was helped by the Freedom Project said: “My children and I had to leave our home because of domestic abuse.

“We were offered a place in a women’s refuge but they didn’t accept dogs. I almost gave my dog Casper up, but then my social worker found out about The Freedom Project and thankfully, they were able to help find him a foster home.

“My children really missed Casper and they kept asking when he would be coming home. I told them that as soon as we moved out of the refuge we would get him back but we ended up moving to a homeless hostel for the last few months.

“The first thing they asked for when we arrived was Casper. When we finally got Casper home, I cried for quite a while.

“We’d been in our new house for a few days to settle in, but it just didn’t feel right without him. My children were so excited to have him home. When we had to flee it wasn’t their toys or anything else they missed, it was their dog.”

Dogs Trust Freedom Project Manager, Clare Kivlehan said: “A dog can really enrich a child’s life and while it can be heart-breaking for children to be separated from their four-legged friend, the parents and children we help are able to leave an abusive situation, safe in the knowledge that their beloved pet will be well cared for until they are in a position to take them back.

“With the support of our volunteer foster carers, the Freedom Project has helped hundreds of dogs like Casper by placing them in a temporary foster home.

“Due to the high demand for our service we are urgently looking for volunteers with experience of caring for dogs, who are at home during the day and can look after dogs for an average of six months.”

If you live in Yorkshire and would like to find about more about volunteering please visit www.dogstrustfreedomproject.org.uk or email: freedomproject@dogstrust.org.uk or call 0800 083 4322.