A shelter that will care for pets so victims of family violence can flee without worrying about their animals being harmed will open next year. The Herald supports Pet Refuge's Christmas Appeal to raise money for the shelter's running costs. To donate visit www.petrefuge.org.nz or call 09 975 0850.
A mystery corporate donor has offered to match the public's donations to a family violence support charity dollar-for-dollar.
The generous donor, a business that wants to remain anonymous, is willing to match donations made today to the new charity Pet Refuge to the tune of $25,000.
The charity supports victims of domestic violence by looking after their pets while they flee their situation.
The charity is set up by KidsCan founder Julie Chapman and the shelter is expected to open in June 2021.
More than $140,000 has been raised as part of the "Christmas Appeal" so far, slightly short of the $200,000 goal.
The $200,000 would ensure the shelter can open its doors with enough cash to operate for six months and the mystery donor's offer could bring a fresh boost of funding to help it reach its target.
As part of a campaign that ran last year, Herald readers helped the shelter raise $300,000 for its internal fitout, covering things like a play area and chew-proof beds.
Founder Julie Chapman said reaching the Christmas Appeal target would mean once the shelter is built, it can open its doors.
"We're close to our fundraising target, but we really need the public to help us get there.
"Pets are the hidden victims of family violence, used as tools by abusers, and this affects far more people in New Zealand than we'd ever want to believe.
"Let's get Pet Refuge open and help give families and their fur babies the safe lives they deserve."
The donor will match all donations to Pet Refuge starting today from 5am to midnight - up to a total of $25,000.
What is Pet Refuge?
Pet Refuge will look after pets for free for their owners temporarily while they escape domestic violence.
That includes dogs, cats, birds and smaller animals, like rabbits. They will also help people with larger animals, such as horses and farm animals.
Pet Refuge will cater to pets across the country, including transporting them to their shelter, with plans to develop a network of farms around New Zealand for larger farm animals.
Pets will be provided a warm bed, food, toys to play with, flea and worm treatments and medical treatment if needed.
The shelter will also provide therapy for pets displaying anxiety and fear.
The shelter has already received numerous messages of support from the public.
One person told Pet Refuge they are "so relieved" a space for abused pets is going to open to support "innocent vulnerable fur babies".
"I wouldn't be surprised if many more abused partners get the courage to leave sooner rather than later now that their fur babies will be safe," the person wrote.
Another person said perpetrators of violence will "target anything you cherish" and that they feared their dog would've been hurt "in my place" if it was left behind.
Another domestic abuse survivor said their pets were their "whole world".
"Your vision is truly a lifesaver for people and pets that need it."
DO YOU NEED HELP?
If you're in danger now:
• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don't stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay
Where to go for help or more information:
• Shine, free national helpline 9am-11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz
• For men who feel they're going to harm a loved one call 0800 HEY BRO or 0800 439 276