A one-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier was brought to Wood Green Animals Charity in a desperate state following a vicious attack in which the dog was stabbed in the cheek.

Ralphie the Staffie was knifed in a violent outburst by his owner's partner. As a result, he required 20 stitches in his face during emergency treatment.

His fraught owner had no alternative but to sign him over to Wood Green for his own safety following the terrifying assault.

Last year, the Godmanchester-based charity cared for 20 dogs and 14 cats belonging to families fleeing domestic abuse, giving them the equivalent of 17 years' worth of care until they were ready to be reunited with their owners.

The white Staffie, who in spite of his ordeal is described by Wood Green staff as a loving and affectionate softy, is said to be winning the hearts of everyone he meets. Luckily, Ralphie has been given a second chance at happiness and has been reserved to a new family.

It is hoped his story will inspire people to become foster carers. Head of animal welfare Linda Cantle said: "Ralphie's terrible ordeal has pulled on our heart strings. For a dog to be let down so badly by someone that his owner trusted is truly devastating.

"Every animal that ends up in the care of Wood Green has a story to tell, some stories are happy and some, like this, are exceptionally sad.

"Domestic abuse not only affects one in four families at some point in their lives, it also affects their pets. We offer a fostering service, Foster Circle, to help victims of domestic abuse by taking in and caring for their pets while they get themselves into a refuge and start rebuilding their lives.

"However, we can only do this with the support of our foster carers and we are always looking for more people to help us."

INFORMATION: For more details about the Foster Circle and to become an animal foster carer, call 0844 248 8181 or email fostering@woodgreen.org.uk.