Protecting Paws

Domestic Abuse and Animals

Although under reported, there is a direct link between domestic abuse and animal abuse.

If there are animals in a household where there is domestic abuse, it is likely the animal will be used in some way to gain and maintain power and control.

The emotional bonds we have with our animals can be very strong.

It is this bond which is used to manipulate and control by the person who is causing harm.

It is traumatic when our much-loved pets become victims of abuse themselves.

There are many ways in which an abuser can use animals to gain and maintain power and control, such as:

• Threats can be made to harm the animal, and these threats can become a reality if the abuser needs to gain more control.

• Threatening to, or rehoming or selling the animal

• Taking control over finances so the animal cannot be fed or seek veterinary care. This can be particularly traumatic if the abuser has injured the animal.

• Threatening to report the non-abusive owner to the RSPCA or other animal welfare organisations.

Our much-loved pets are the reason why so many people cannot leave the abuse. For so many, they know the animal will used as a punishment or a way to coerce the person back if they were to leave.

For so many, this has been the biggest barrier to leaving the abuse.

Due to the communal nature of refuges and other safe accommodation, they are often unable to accept pets. Survivors are faced with a choice to either give up their beloved pet or to leave without them, which leaves many to end up staying in the home.

For so many, they will not leave without their much love pet.

This does not need to be barrier as there is a lifeline for you and your pets.



The Dogs Trust provides a solution; The Freedom Project. The Dogs Trust has a network of volunteer carers who will look after and care for your dog for up to 9 months. All food, vet treatments, toys, bedding, treats etc are funded by The Dogs Trust so is completely free for the volunteer and the owner.

The dog and owner are completely safe and all details are kept completely confidential. The volunteer carer will not know anything about the owner and vice versa. The dogs are placed a safe distance away from where they left and the owner will be given regular updates from The Dogs Trust, including photos!

The peace of mind this service gives to owners so they are able to focus and plan their next steps, is priceless to so many. The Dogs Trust provides this service in Norfolk and across East Anglia.

To find out more, visit their website or call 0808 196 6240.


We are delighted Cats Protection have expanded their Lifeline service across East Anglia (including Norfolk). As the Dogs Trust provides their Freedom Project, Cats Protection has their similar cat fostering service for your feline best friend.

The service is completely confidential. The foster carers and owner will never meet, the collection of the cat will be handled experienced female workers.

Their service is completely free of charge to the owner and foster carer as all food, vet bills and toys etc is covered by Cats Protection. The owner receives updates, including photos whilst the cat is in foster care.

Once the owner is ready to be safely resettled, they can be reunited together again and start their life together, to their freedom.

Referrals can be made by a professional, or self referral.

For more information, visit their website, call 0300 012 0283, or email


If you would like to know about becoming a volunteer foster carer for dogs or cats, you can find out more via the links below.

Dogs Trust

Cats Protection

There is no cost to you at all and you will be providing a life changing service for the owner and their much loved pet.

If you want to discuss all the options available to keep you and your pet safe, you can contact NIDAS.

There are always options, please contact the team at NIDAS to talk you through these. We are here to support your journey to freedom.