• The Cotswolds Dogs & Cats Home (CDCH) has developed a pilot pet fostering service to help individuals fleeing domestic abuse
  • The Gloucestershire based charity is one of 41 local projects to successfully apply for grants in the Commissioner’s Fund latest round of bids
  • PCC Chris Nelson said, “If concern for a family pet contributes, in any way, to domestic abuse, I hope this innovative project can help alleviate it”
  • CDCH is one of 41 new projects supported by the Commissioner’s Fund this year and one of more than 500 local projects since the scheme was created in 2012.

Our pets are an important part of our families. But what happens when one member of the family is subjected to abuse by another, and the abuse is prolonged due to concern for the pet?

Not only is the pet liable to be injured, it’s very likely that rather than abandon their ‘best friend’, the owner will stay with their abuser and in doing so extend the period of harm for both of them.

This is what one abuse sufferer, whose name we have agreed to withhold, said: “I was scared, worried, and had the extra worry of what I would do with my 5 week old puppy, and how I could make sure she was cared for without having to make the heart-breaking decision to rehome her”.

Thankfully, a local animal welfare charity came to her aid.

The Cotswolds Dogs & Cats Home (CDCH) has developed a pilot pet fostering service to help individuals fleeing domestic abuse who are apprehensive to leave their beloved pets. It is one of the latest organisations to receive funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) through the Commissioner’s Fund.

“I placed my puppy into the care of the team at the Cotswold Dogs and cats home when I had to flee my home to enter a women’s refuge. They were really accommodating and got my dog into foster care within a couple of days.

“I was reassured her care needs would be met, and one weight was lifted from my shoulders instantly. It was a completely smooth process and I am now looking forward to getting my dog back, knowing she has had the best possible care.

“I cannot thank the team and the foster carers enough for helping me at my greatest time of need.

“I owe the team so much, and without them, I would not have been able to get to safety as quickly as I did”.

CDCH is one of more than 500 local projects supported by the Commissioner’s Fund since it was created in 2012. Each project is carefully scrutinised to ensure it is helping to deliver at least one of the priorities of the Police and Crime Prevention Plan.

A strong correlation between domestic abuse to humans and pets

PCC Chris Nelson said, “Our pets are sentient beings who respond to their surroundings whether for good or ill. When animals are abused, people are at risk; when people are abused, animals are at risk.

“The legal process could mean some animals staying in care for long periods, awaiting a court hearing until they can be signed over. Many animals have high and complex rehabilitation needs or health conditions, all of which adds to the stress of someone who is already being abused

“If concern for a family pet contributes, in any way, to domestic abuse, I hope this innovative project can help alleviate it”.

More than half of those applying for grants from the latest Commissioner’s Fund cycle were successful.

Of the 79 applications – there were originally 80 but one withdrew – 41 were approved, another three applications are still pending.

All 41 applications were new initiatives in accordance with the new Police and Crime Prevention Plan priorities. 11 were completely new organisations, the remainder were previously supported by the OPCC, who had to submit new bids in line with the new conditions.

CDCH fund-raising manager Jane Ellis said, “Research shows a strong correlation between individuals committing domestic abuse to humans and pets, making animals in this type of environment extremely vulnerable. This, alongside the fact that around 59% of households in the UK own a pet, highlights the number of animals that are potentially at risk due to domestic abuse.

“The key aim of our charity is to ensure that no vulnerable animal is without a safe space. If the individual is not willing to leave their pets, it can cause huge barriers.

“We are extremely grateful for the support of the Commissioner’s Fund for our project”.

Some of the other projects supported by the Commissioner’s Fund include:

  • Pauls C of E School – Project MADE (Make A Difference to Everyone), using Solomon Theatre Company to engage students and parents/carers with both performances and workshops. The workshops will address issues that have an influence on young people in society today such as drugs, alcohol, law, crime, gangs, relationships and sexual exploitation, as a way to communicate.
  • Victim Support – ‘Hedgehog Finds Her Voice’ book – written by staff within Victim Support Gloucestershire and their second book after ‘Who’s been in my tree?’ The book is for children who have experienced a burglary, but could also be used to help children who have experienced other kinds of trauma.
  • Circles – an organisation working with criminal justice agencies to reduce sex offending. “There are around 64,000 people living in the UK on the Sex Offender’s Register; almost 10% (6,000) of whom live in South West England, and almost 1% (600) in Gloucestershire”.
  • Infobuzz – The Hidden Victims of Crime. New project working with hidden victims of crime
  • TIC+ – Anger management and violence reduction through counselling. This project supports young people presenting with anger issues that could lead to ASB, crime and potential violence towards others.
  • Gloucestershire Outward Bound Association – Gloucestershire Constabulary Outward Bound Bursary Scheme. 24 Young People will participate in a 5 day Outward Bound Course at the Outward Bound Centre, Aberdovey, Wales.
  • Bike Projects – Both Gloucestershire Bike Project CIC – Cycles of Change and Creative Sustainability – Access Bike.
  • The Music Works – The Drop. Delivering regular, open access music making sessions for young people at risk of getting involved in violence.
  • More than half the funded projects were in support of schemes targeting young people. Although all were important, only 50% of the finance requested could be funded in order to ensure more schemes across the county could be supported

The Police and Crime Prevention Plan is the PCC’s strategic plan for ensuring Gloucestershire remains a safe place to live, work and visit. Its six priorities are:

  • Creating Safer Communities
  • Tackling violence against women and girls
  • Strengthening your Constabulary
  • Targeting the causes of crime
  • Supporting Victims and reducing reoffending
  • Empowering local communities