Pet fosterers urgently needed as demand surges
Hundreds of families desperately need their pets to be fostered so that they can escape domestic violence.
Many people feel trapped in their situation because moving into temporary accommodation often means they have to leave their animals behind.
This is where our pet fostering service, PetRetreat, comes in. Through its network of fosterers, the service looks after cats and dogs belonging to victims of domestic abuse until such a time as they can be reunited.
We urgently need more PetRetreat fosterers
But this invaluable service is now at crisis point. We are currently inundated with a record number of pleas for help from families who are fleeing domestic abuse and asking for someone to care for their pets.
And so we are launching a nationwide appeal for pet fosterers.
'We just don't have enough foster homes'
PetRetreat manager Carolyn Southwell said:
We really need more people to come forward to foster these animals so we can provide urgent help to people in this harrowing situation.
We get so many calls and we just don't have enough foster homes.
We simply cannot continue to help if we don't find more fosterers to care for these very special cats and dogs.
We have seen annual increases in the demand for our PetRetreat service.
- We receive nearly 100 calls a week from victims of domestic abuse who need someone to foster their pets so they can leave the situation.
- But there are currently only 80 RSPCA PetRetreat fosterers throughout England and Wales.
Supporting people and pets
PetRetreat fosterer Tamsyn King (pictured right with her dogs) has been fostering animals through PetRetreat for three years.
As a former victim of domestic abuse herself, she wanted to do something to help others in that situation.
PetRetreat brought back memories of my own situation when I was living through domestic abuse.
I endured longer than I would have done because of my pets. I simply couldn't leave them behind with a violent man.
Being a fosterer is my way of supporting people going through the same trauma.
But also helping the pets who have to suffer in silence.
Alesha Dixon urges more people to become PetRetreat fosterers
Strictly Come Dancing judge and long-term RSPCA supporter Alesha Dixon is backing the appeal.
Alesha recently revealed her mother was a victim of domestic abuse and she grew up seeing the devastating effect this can have on a family.
She is drawing on her own experiences to help other families in need by supporting our appeal. She said:
When I was younger, it was so hard for me to see my mum go through such a harrowing situation and I felt very helpless.
PetRetreat provides a much-needed escape route for people who may feel trapped in an abusive relationship by making sure the four-legged members of their family are properly looked after.
But the service relies on fosterers, so anyone who thinks they could open their hearts and homes to help foster cats and dogs should get in touch.
Women's Aid also supporting appeal
Domestic abuse charity, Women's Aid, has lent its support to our appeal for fosterers.
PetRetreat was established in collaboration with Women's Aid back in 2002 to help the other silent sufferers - pets.
Spokeswoman Teresa Parker said:
It is vital that there are services available to foster pets in these situations, so that abused women and children feel able to leave an abusive home safe in the knowledge that their pets are safe and being looked after while they are using emergency refuge accommodation.
It takes a very special person to be a PetRetreat fosterer.
Could you be a PetRetreat fosterer?
Find out more about our PetRetreat service, our appeal for PetRetreat fosterers and how to apply.