New research from Women's Refuge reveals a huge number of women delay leaving abusive relationships because they fear what will happen to their pets. On Monday the Herald announced the launch of the first Pet Refuge, a service that will remove that barrier for women looking to escape domestic violence.

Donations to New Zealand's first shelter for animals affected by domestic violence will be matched dollar-for-dollar tomorrow in a bid to push the fundraiser closer to the $250,000 needed.

The country's first Pet Refuge will be built in the Auckland area and will house animals from homes where domestic violence is rife, while their owners leave abusers and find safety.

Pets will be housed in the shelter until they can be reunited with their owners in new violence-free homes.


The shelter is the brainchild of KidsCan founder Julie Chapman, who purchased the land and worked with the Lindsay Foundation to secure funds for the initial build.

But a further $250,000 is needed for the fit-out of the shelter, including beds and enclosures, play areas, toys and medical facilities.

More than $137,400 has already been donated in the first week.

In a bid to boost donations, PetStock will tomorrow match every dollar donated - up to $25,000 - between 5am and midnight.

PetStock is a company providing food, healthcare and supplies for a plethora of furry and other animal friends.

Pet Refuge hopes the public would help them raise $50,000 in 24 hours and is calling on Kiwis to keep digging deep to fund the important project.

It is hoped the shelter will be open by April, and house cats, dogs and other small animals.

Larger animals - horses, sheep, goats and the like - will be cared for at one of a network of safe farms around the country.

Julie Chapman, founder of Pet Refuge, at home with two of her eight rescue cats. Photo / Michael Craig
Julie Chapman, founder of Pet Refuge, at home with two of her eight rescue cats. Photo / Michael Craig

New Zealand has the worst reported rate of domestic violence in the developed world and new Women's Refuge survey-based research has revealed the abuse is not just between humans in these dangerous relationships.

Animals are routinely beaten, tortured, threatened and killed by abusers in a bid to exert dominance and power, to demonstrate force, to manipulate, to induce compliance.

READ MORE: First Pet Refuge to open in NZ, helping victims of domestic violence house animals while they chase safety

The Family Violence and Animal Abuse Survey 2018, shared exclusively with the Herald as part of a three-day series on the issue, aimed to explore victims' experiences of the abuse of their pets and how that influenced their attempts at leaving violent homes.

In a survey of almost 1000 domestic violence victims who had experienced a partner abusing or threatening a pet, the research showed 53 per cent of them delayed leaving the relationship because they feared what would happen to animals left behind.

As well, 41 per cent said they or their children had been made to watch their pet being harmed by their partner.

To donate to the shelter build visit:

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:

• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843
• Pet Refuge
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633
• 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