Our cookies

We use cookies, which are small text files, to improve your experience on our website.
You can allow all or manage them individually.

Manage cookies Allow all

Our cookies

Allow all

We use cookies, which are small text files, to improve your experience on our website. You can allow all or manage them individually.

You can find out more on our cookie page at any time.

EssentialThese cookies are needed for essential functions such as logging in and making payments. Standard cookies can’t be switched off and they don’t store any of your information.
AnalyticsThese cookies help us collect information such as how many people are using our site or which pages are popular to help us improve customer experience. Switching off these cookies will reduce our ability to gather information to improve the experience.
FunctionalThese cookies are related to features that make your experience better. They enable basic functions such as social media sharing. Switching off these cookies will mean that areas of our website can’t work properly.

Save preferences

Exit site

The connection between pets and domestic abuse

We know through our experience, and from research, that there’s a significant connection between pets and domestic abuse. Pets can be a barrier for someone escaping abuse, and are often used by perpetrators as a tool for coercive control.  

Our Survey* in 2019 found that many survivors of domestic abuse had experienced their pets being abused, or their ability to care for their pets restricted.  

97% of professionals said that pets are also often used as a means of controlling and coercing someone experiencing domestic abuse. 

9 out of 10 professionals said that some survivors won't leave their home without knowing their pet will be safe

89% of professionals were aware of domestic abuse cases where pets had also been abused

59% of professionals knew of cases where pets, or an owner's ability to care for a pet, had been impacted by economic abuse

The bond we share with our pets is always an important one, particularly when we're going through difficult times. Sadly, abusers also recognise this bond, and use it to gain power and control over their partners or family members. This can range from threatening to harm the pet, to stopping them being able to care for their pet the way they’d like to.  

Coercive control 

We know that many abusers exploit the bond we have with our pets to gain power and control. It’s common for pets to be threatened, or even harmed, by perpetrators.  

Emotional abuse 

Emotional or psychological abuse might include abusers selling or rehoming a beloved pet, or calling the owners names, such as a 'bad dog owner'. 

Physical abuse 

Over a third of the dogs referred to our Freedom Project have also experienced physical abuse. This is extremely frightening and traumatic for their owners to witness. We work closely with the Links Group, who aim to raise awareness within the vet community of non-accidental injury. 

Economic abuse

Many abusers will control access to finances, and stop dog owners accessing essential veterinary care or food for their dogs. Our service is completely free to access, we'll arrange for a health check and organise any vaccinations or flea and worming treatment that might be needed.  

Given the close connection between pets and domestic abuse, our service is vital to ensure both people and their pets can escape to safety. Our Freedom Project is designed specifically for survivors of domestic abuse, and we operate under strict service standards set through the Links Pet Fostering Group. 

*Pets and Domestic Abuse Professionals Survey 2019 

Pets & Domestic Abuse Survey 2019

Our recent blog highlights our research and the connection between pets and domestic abuse.

Pets & Domestic Abuse Blog