Share this page


PetRetreat is our advice and pet fostering service for families fleeing domestic abuse.

Providing a safe retreat for pets

Since its beginning in 2002, PetRetreat has provided a safe retreat for more than 1200 pets, belonging to 800 families who have been victims of domestic abuse.

Through its network of animal fosterers, the service provides a retreat for pets belonging to families who are going into a refuge until such time as the owner has a new, safe place to live, when they can be reunited.

If you're experiencing problems at home, and would like to get in touch, please read our help for sufferers

Silent victims 

PetRetreat was established in collaboration with Women's Aid, an organisation that supports the victims of domestic abuse, who were concerned about the other silent sufferers - pets.

Woman sitting with dog on beach at sunset © iStockphoto Emmanuel Hidalgo

It's becoming more apparent that family pets are being used as a tool to manipulate and control victims of domestic abuse.

Information suggests that one of the reasons that women are not leaving their abusive partners and retreating to the safety of a refuge is due to the fear of leaving their pets behind.

Pets are used as a way of controlling the victim either by threatening to harm the animals if they leave, or by actually hurting the animal in front of the victim. 

Domestic abuse

Each year, thousands of men, women and children are affected by domestic abuse. This can be physical, emotional, psychological or sexual.

It is estimated that one in four women and one in six men will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives, and partners or ex-partners kill, on average, more than two women each week in the UK.

Find out what to do if you are experiencing domestic abuse.

Read our help for sufferers.