The scheme places much loved pets into volunteers’ homes who care for them until it is safe for them to be reunited with their owners.
Launched in November last year, the Scottish arm of the Freedom Project already has 35 volunteers on its books from the Borders to Dundee, but is on the lookout for more in the Edinburgh and Lothians area.
Diane Muskett, regional manager for the project, said: “Pets can be used against family members with people blamed for a dog’s behaviour.
“A dog can be the only source of comfort some people have, so the perpetrator can threaten to take the dog away or harm it.”
A much-loved family dog can be a barrier to someone leaving an abusive situation as refuges often can’t accommodate animals.
Diane added: “We have had people tell us that this project has saved their lives and that without it they wouldn’t have left.”
Volunteer Veronica is one of the kind-hearted foster carers who have opened their homes and hearts to a dog in need. She said: “Me and my partner had just moved into a new house and we wanted a dog around and we wanted to help someone out at the same time. I had a look around and came across the Freedom Project.
“It’s going really well. The dog is no bother at all. It’s nice to get to know him and we know that when he leaves, he will be going to a better place.”
On the rare occasions that families can’t take a dog to their new accommodation, Dogs Trust will ensure the dog is rehomed.
The project was launched in London in 2004 and has since migrated to Yorkshire, the north-east of England and now Scotland.
Volunteers must have experience with dogs and be home for most of the day. Ashley Szafranek, Scottish co-ordinator of the project, said: “It’s really important for the owners to know their dog is in a stable environment and we provide photos, so that they know we’ve placed them in the right home.”
The welfare charity matches foster carers with the sometimes distressed dogs very carefully, covering all the costs and providing advice and support every step of the way.
Veronica said: “Fostering is something that’s really important to me. It’s really nice to have the companionship and be reminded there’s an outside world.
“It’s been a really positive experience and I would recommend it to anyone.”
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