Many people find it difficult to leave a pet when fleeing domestic abuse
A scheme to look after the pets of people fleeing domestic violence has been set up in South Yorkshire.
The RSPCA is offering the PetRetreat service to pet owners who find themselves living in a hostel or another place where pets are banned.
Officers at Sheffield Animal Centre say needing to care for a pet can stop people leaving difficult situations.
Cathy Hyde from the RSPCA said: "This is a fantastic service that not only helps animals but also their owners."
Place of safety
The RSPCA chief inspector added: "Pets can be targeted in domestic abuse situations and we know that not having a safe place for a beloved animal to go can be a barrier to leaving.
"RSPCA PetRetreat removes that barrier.
"Refuges can't take animals for health and safety reasons, which is where we come in.
"This service allows people to go into refuge, in the knowledge that their pets are safe.
"Once they're settled in a home of their own they can be reunited."
Referral to PetRetreat must come from a refuge, social services or police.
All the animals are neutered and microchipped, before being given a health check and moved on to a "foster home".
Earlier this year the RSPCA appealed for people to offer to care for animals in the scheme.
Ms Hyde said: "The response was great, but of course we're always looking for more so anyone who thinks they can offer a temporary home to an RSPCA PetRetreat dog or cat specifically should get in touch."
Anyone wanting to use the service should call 0300 123 8278.
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