PCC Kathryn Holloway, police dog Finn and handler PC Dave Wardell. Image Office of Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner

Emergency animal shelter scheme for Domestic Abuse victims forced to stay put because of their pets

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has set aside emergency funding to support victims of Domestic Abuse who feel unable to leave home because they do not want to leave a pet behind.

The Commissioner’s office has been working with a Bedfordshire dog kennelling business to provide respite care to those who may need help to ensure that their dogs will be cared for in their time of urgent need.

The PCC is also working with Cats Protection. The cat care charity runs ‘Paws Protect‘ which is a pet fostering service for families fleeing domestic abuse.

Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway said:

“The picture around Domestic Abuse makes it clear that some sadly need to leave their homes in this emergency and have been accessing the hotel and safe house accommodation that is being paid for with my £60k fund for this purpose, established at the very outset of lockdown.

“However, common sense dictates that, on some occasions, they are not leaving for their own safety because they cannot find alternative care for pets, which cannot, for example, be taken into many hotels or rented spaces.

“As a result, I’m delighted to launch the Emergency Pet Shelter project to provide that lifeline to those fleeing abuse, to provide emergency accommodation for their cats or dogs too.”

Pets will be kept in confidential and secure premises

The scheme is available from today (22 April 2020). It can be accessed by Bedfordshire Police officers who encounter relevant cases while on front line duty.

All pets will be kept in secure premises and their whereabouts will remain confidential. This is for the safety of victims and their pets, as well as the staff caring for the animals.

The temporary care scheme for cats and dogs will also be available for owners who have been admitted to hospital in relation to COVID-19 if they are refusing to leave home for this reason.

Mark Beazley, Director of Operations at Cats Protection, has seen at first hand how devastating the impact of Domestic Abuse can be on families, during his time as a police officer with Hampshire Constabulary.

“I am extremely proud of the service that Paws Protect offers to victims of Domestic Abuse and I’m delighted that we have been able to develop the service into Bedfordshire.

“Paws Protect removes the barriers that families face when trying to flee Domestic Abuse and the need for a service that helps both animals and people is essential.”

Victims can access the scheme by calling 101. In an emergency relating to Domestic Abuse, always call 999.

Front line officers will be aware of the support available, and will be able to assist victims to access the care for their pets.