CAB advice

Leaving a violent relationship but concerned about your pet?

SINCE the birth of our first child six months ago my partner has become very violent towards me.

I am really worried about the safety of my daughter and have been in touch with a refuge who have offered me accommodation and help with leaving.

But I don’t want to leave my dog behind as I’m scared about what will happen to him. What can I do?

Many people like you suffering domestic abuse feel they can’t escape the situation because they are worried about what will happen to their pet if they leave.

Firstly, ask the refuge whether they can take your dog? Most refuges unfortunately can’t take pets, a factor which sadly many abusers use to control their victims by threatening to or actually harming the animal.

Thankfully there is help available from the RSPCA which has set up PetRetreat, a foster care service for cats, dogs and other small animals.

Pets are given a good home, usually for between four and six months. This gives people time to get back on their feet before being reunited with their pet.

The people who foster the pet know nothing about the owner and homes are found outside the local area. This means confidentiality is protected and abusers can’t trace people through their pets.

The RSPCA also offers a health service for pets while they are in foster care, including worming, neutering and vaccinations. They will also provide treatment if the animal needs medical care.

Cats and dogs have to be at least six months old to be fostered as it can be hard to settle very young animals.

If the pet is very young the RSPCA can help with rehoming instead, particularly if there are worries about their safety too.

You can contact the RSPCA on 0300 123 8278 or 07715 540182, or email They can even rescue pets at a later stage, so if you have to leave before you have made alternative arrangements for your dog don’t worry, the RSPCA can still help you.

You can also find out more information on the RSPCA website at

If you’re worried about domestic violence come to your local CAB or call the helpline below. Everything you say will be completely confidential.

CAB adviceline 08444 111444 or 0300 3300 650 (mobile)

Your local CAB is in Market Square, Thame.