Animals are the silent victims of domestic abuse - physically abused, threatened, intimidated, and neglected by the perpetrator. Devastatingly, they also have to watch their family suffer abuse.
Can you imagine what effect this has on them?
We know first-hand the distress domestic abuse inflicts on animals and we are seeing a real increase in animals who are deeply traumatised by their experience.
There is a link between domestic abuse and animal abuse.
From research undertaken by Dr Mary Wakeham, CEO of Refuge4Pets, as part of her PhD studies, 88% of domestic abuse survivors she spoke to reported that their animals had also been abused by the perpetrator.
Horrifically, animals were physically abused by the perpetrator including kicking, punching, throwing (against walls, downstairs, out of windows), beating, stabbing, burning and the administration of poisons including drugs and alcohol. In Mary's research, in 13 of the households, animals were brutally and intentionally murdered by the perpetrator, often in front of the family, including children.
Families will not flee domestic abuse if they cannot take their much-loved animals with them.
This was the case for Lucy (not her real name) who we thankfully were able to help:
'I remember calling a domestic abuse helpline and they offered to take me into a refuge with the children. And I said about the animals, and they said, 'You just have to leave them. You have to get out and you have to leave them.' I could not do that; my dog is part of the family.'
Who We Are:
At Refuge4Pets we provide an animal fostering service across Devon and Cornwall so families experiencing domestic abuse can escape with their much-loved animals. Most emergency housing and refuges are unable to accommodate animals, which makes our service so important.
We have been providing this service since 2017 and to date, we have helped 350 families, and 500 animals escape abuse.
We receive an increasing number of daily calls for help, and we have between 50-60 animals in foster care at any one time. We cover all costs while animals are cared for including vet treatment, medication, and food. We do this because families often leave with absolutely nothing and must rebuild their lives from scratch.
We have a wonderful family of foster carers, but sadly, we are seeing an increasing number of traumatised animals, particularly dogs, who just cannot be placed into foster homes.
These animals need rehabilitation from the experience they have endured.
If we cannot help these animals, we cannot help their families escape domestic abuse, putting the lives of adults, children, and animals in the household in jeopardy.
We know the consequences of turning people away.
But we have a plan, and we need your support to make it a reality.
'We are finding more and more dogs and cats in particular that are deeply traumatised by their experience of domestic abuse, these animals desperately need rehabilitation and help. If we had our own premises, we can assess animals' needs and provide the highest standard of rehabilitation possible.' Dr Mary Wakeham, CEO Refuge4Pets.
Our plan is ambitious so we are taking a phased approach:
Purchase land to build on, or alternatively, buy an existing kennel/cattery site in Cornwall where we are based.
We want our kennel and cattery spaces to be a home from home and as comfortable as we can make them with therapy on hand to provide rehabilitation for these animals while they are with us.
Build accommodation pods on the site where families and their animals fleeing domestic abuse can stay together. The facility will be one of a kind and revolutionise the way in which victim-survivors of domestic abuse - and their animals - can be cared for in the UK.
We aim to be sustainable, finding ways to generate income on our site to help towards the costs of running our project.
We are looking to raise £1.7million for this project. It is an incredible amount of money, but we need to fund everything - the project management, land purchase, refurbishment/building works and everything else needed to get our plan off the ground and up and running. As well as public donations, we are also exploring other funding opportunities. If we are unable to raise enough for our project, any donations will be used to cover our ongoing running costs helping people and animals escape domestic abuse.
Can You Help Us?
If you would like to be part of this unique, live changing project and can afford to give to our Crowdfunder, we would be incredibly grateful. In recognition of your kind support, we are offering rewards which include annual Refuge4Pets family memberships and the chance to have your name featured on our website. If you can spread the word and encourage others to donate, that would be incredible. If you think you may have a reward, we could add to our appeal to encourage donations, please get in touch at [email protected].
And the final word should come from those we have been able to help:
'Without Refuge4Pets I would not have been able to leave the dangerous situation I was in. It helped me get through some very traumatic days, weeks and months knowing my dog was being so well looked after and that I would be reunited with her one day.'
'Thank you. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't of got out alive.'
''Refuge4Pets has allowed me to be safe and rebuild my life without losing my best friends.'
Please help us turn our ambition into a reality so we can be there for ALL families and their animals escaping domestic abuse.