Call for canine carers in domestic violence cases

June 11, 2008 12:00 AM
By Kathy Canham in Brentwood Gazette
BIG HUGS: Cllr Karen Chilvers, with her dog, Quincy, appeals on behalf of the Dogs Trust.

BIG HUGS: Cllr Karen Chilvers, with her dog, Quincy, appeals on behalf of the Dogs Trust.

A SPECIAL breed of people are needed to offer loving homes to dogs rescued from domestic violence.

Animal lover Karen Chilvers is appealing on behalf of the Dogs Trust for people to take temporary care of a beloved pet.

The foster carers can be vital in helping women flee abuse without the trauma of having to leave their family pet behind.

Brentwood borough councillor Karen has taken up the cause because of her interest in animal welfare.

Her own dog Quincy, a shih tzu that is blind in one eye, came from a rescue centre after being found wandering on the streets of Barking.

Karen said: "The scheme was set up due to an identified link between domestic violence and animal abuse.

"Men who are violent to women may threaten, injure or kill a pet to intimidate their partner and retain control, which leads to women and children staying in a violent situation to keep their pet safe.

"Many refuges for women will not take pets and the other alternative, a rescue centre, is for permanent rehoming.

"But with this scheme, the dog can be fostered and allow the family to leave. They can then be reunited with their pet when they are resettled.

"I need the Gazette to help. We need to find safe foster homes.

"We are specifically looking for experienced dog owners. It may well suit someone who has recently lost a dog, wants a companion for a lone dog or is unable to commit to a dog permanently at this stage."

The Freedom Project seeks experienced dog owners with the time to give love and attention to pets who can feel forsaken by their owners and distressed by what has happened.

The Dogs Trust charity foots all food and vet bills until the animals' owners are ready to reclaim them having settled into new homes.

One 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."

Call Karen on 07927 404827, visit www.karenchilvers.mycouncillor.org.uk or call the Dogs Trust direct on 0207 8370006