Dogs Trust Freedom Project marks one year helping pet owners fleeing domestic abuse in the North East

Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, is marking the one year anniversary of the Freedom Project, a vital initiative which helps pet owners fleeing domestic abuse in the North East, by providing a safe temporary foster home for their dogs. As the project enters its second year, the charity is looking for more foster carers, with experience of caring for dogs, to sign up and foster a dog on the scheme. 

The Freedom Project works 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. Many refuges are unable to accept pets so this important pet fostering service gives owners peace of mind that their dog will be well cared for until they are rehoused and able to take their beloved pets back.

As we approach the 16 days of action against domestic violence the team are calling for more foster carers to help further the work of the team in the North East. Over the past 12 months, 30 dogs have been placed on the scheme, with carefully selected foster carers and have allowed countless families to flee domestic abuse 

Abigail from the North East who has been helped by the project says: 

“I found out about the Freedom Project at my support group – someone there knew about the project and told me about it and I was so relieved to hear that it existed and that I could get help with my dog. I really wouldn’t have left if I didn’t have somewhere for my dog to go – I could never have left him there or given him away. When we were reunited it was amazing, we were crying when he came home, the children and I were so overjoyed to see him. He remembered us all and was so happy to see us. We are so happy that he’s home” 

To mark the one year anniversary, Dogs Trust is raising awareness of this important project, and is appealing for volunteer foster carers to join the scheme and help even more people like Abigail fleeing domestic abuse in the region. 

Sarah Vasey, Freedom Project Coordinator for the North East says: 

“Leaving an abusive home can be incredibly difficult, especially if it means having to give up your dog, or worse, leave them behind. Sadly, research shows that pets in the home are also often affected by domestic abuse.  By offering our service, we are helping dog owners to get to safety knowing that their pets are safe and well cared for until they are able to be reunited with them.” 

“The delivery of this service in the North East would not have been possible without the help of our incredibly dedicated volunteer foster carers who have opened their homes and hearts to these dogs.  If you would like to help someone in need by fostering a dog on the Freedom Project, please get in touch to apply for this rewarding opportunity.” 

Volunteer Foster Carer Jean adds: 

“I lost my dog last year and haven’t felt able to take on another dog permanently, but the Freedom Project is perfect as it allows me to have a dog in the home whilst knowing that I am helping a family. Not only are you fostering a lovely dog but you’re also helping someone escape domestic abuse knowing that their dog will be safe too. I really enjoy fostering, I love taking the dogs for walks and the company that having a dog brings, I have made lots of friends in the area from walking my foster dog, and it keeps me active too!  I would urge anyone who has experience caring for a dog to consider becoming a foster carer and contact the team to find out more.” 

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. All the dogs’ expenses are covered by Dogs Trust, so this is a particularly rewarding volunteering opportunity for dog lovers who aren’t able to own a dog on a permanent basis. 

If you live in the North East and would like to find out more about volunteering or how to get help through the Dogs Trust Freedom Project please visit or email: [email protected] or call: 0300 303 3497

For advice and support on domestic abuse, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline on 0808 2000 247 (UK).