A Helping Paw

A Helping Paw is a bridge to a better life, safety and security.

A Helping Paw

A Helping Paw was launched in 2019 and is a scheme which enables Oak Tree to help pet owners who are experiencing homelessness and/or fleeing domestic abuse. It allows a person to place their pet/s into a safe environment whilst they themselves find refuge in a hostel. Pet owners can then find appropriate accommodation without the worry of having to leave their pet behind. Once a pet is in its foster placement, the owner will receive weekly updates via videos and/or photos so that they can see how their pet is doing.

Did you know, in domestic violence and/or homelessness situations, a pet is often the only constant thing in its owner’s life? Many pet owners will remain homeless or stay in an abusive relationship as they worry they may have to leave their pet behind. A Helping Paw allows us to remove that barrier and those in need can be confident that their pet is safe and they will be reunited once permanent accommodation has been found. 

Due to the sensitive nature of this scheme and for the safety of all involved, the details of owners, foster carers and locations remain confidential at all times.

Needing a helping paw?

A Helping Paw works on a referral basis and our team has collaborated with agencies throughout Cumbria to ensure that we can increase our efforts in helping pet owners in need.

If you are a pet owner fleeing domestic abuse and/or are homeless, see below a list of referral agencies who can help you in your next steps to seeking refuge.

Note: If you do not see your referrer below, do not worry, they can still refer you onto the scheme. 

A Helping Paw referral agency list includes (but is not limited to):

  • NHS Health workers
  • Social workers
  • Carlisle City Council
  • Allerdale County Council
  • Copeland county council
  • Eden housing
  • Riverside housing
  • Any other housing agency
  • Youth Groups
  • Carlisle Key
  • Water Street Hostel
  • John Street Hostel
  • Citizens Advice
  • Salvation Army
  • Case workers

Alternatively, you can speak with a member of our Community Team on 01228 560082 extension 228 or email ahelpingpaw@oaktreeanimals.org.uk for further information.

Want to help?

This scheme would not be possible without the fantastic support and dedication of our volunteer foster carers. They appreciate that the pets coming into our care may have had to adjust to many situations in a short space of time. With ongoing support and training from Oak Tree, owners can rest assured knowing that their pets will be matched with the appropriate foster home where each pet will be met with love, understanding and patience.

Become a Volunteer Fosterer, here!

Success Stories

A young person and their dog

A young person had moved to a new area after their mother had passed away. All they had was their dog and car. Due to having no friends or family in the area to care for the dog, the person could not secure lodgings in a local hostel. The young person lived in their car for a number of weeks with their dog until they visited a housing department who then referred them to our ‘A Helping Paw’ scheme.

Within days, we had found a lovely foster home for the dog and the young person was given temporary housing. After 34 days on our “A Helping Paw” scheme, the young person was reunited with their father and beloved dog. They have since secured a home and can now look to the future together.

Domestic Abuse

Not long after the launch of our “A Helping Paw” scheme, we were contacted by a referral agency that had a client with two cats who had suffered ongoing abuse from their partner. After many incidents, the partner was arrested and imprisoned. Sadly, this was not the end of the suffering. The victim then had to be moved to a safe house due to the perpetrator’s family and friends targeting the victim’s home. Graffiti was painted on the house and bricks were thrown through the windows.  As is often the case, pets are not permitted in hostels or many privately rented properties so the owner felt they could not escape without leaving their cats behind.

We had to act quickly. Thankfully, we had a foster carer on hand. Our team collected the cats and the owner moved to a safe house until appropriate accommodation was found outside of the area. Appropriate housing was soon found for the owner and, after 12 days of foster care, the cats were able to be reunited with them in a safe and secure environment.

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