A north-east woman has cycled hundreds of miles to help a charity care for people’s dogs while their owners flee domestic violence.
As a number of refuges do not allow pets, some people may feel forced to choose between staying at home with their dog and an abusive partner, or escaping.
Dogs Trust set up the Freedom Project, which offers free fostering services for those in such situations 15 years ago. It has since helped more than 1,400 people.
Inspired by the cause, Seonaidh Baker from Methlick has cycled 546 miles to raise money for the charity.
She had been due to take a trip from Aberdeen to London with her sister, but called it off amid the pandemic.
Mrs Baker decided she would instead pedal the same distance between the two cities, making numerous outings around Aberdeenshire to do so.
She said: “I hadn’t thought about the fact that when a person is being abused their pet can be used as a form of control and to keep them within that household, nor that if a person fled domestic abuse they may have to give up that pet.
“Having two pets myself – Eddy and Sadie the cats – and a family dog, Hamish, I couldn’t comprehend leaving them behind for any reason.
“It is such a horrible position for people to be in, when their pets are often their only confidant, and that’s why this project is so important.”
Mrs Baker, who is operations manager of the Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen, averaged 25 to 30 miles per day on her bike, travelling around Ythanbank, Ellon, Dyce and Peterhead.
She has raised more than £1,300.
Ashley Szafranek, Scotland Freedom Project coordinator at Dogs Trust, said: “We are extremely grateful to Seonaidh for this lovely gesture and to the overwhelming number of people who have offered their kindness and support in these uncertain times.
“It is no surprise that self-isolation and social distancing could mean survivors experiencing domestic abuse are likely to be more isolated in a home with their perpetrator.
“We are therefore doing everything we can to support pet owners experiencing domestic abuse who may need to temporarily hand over their dogs to us while they escape their home.”
To donate, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/seonaidh-baker.