In just seven days more than $250,000 has been donated to set up New Zealand's first shelter for animals affected by domestic violence.

The target of $250,000 was set last week when details of Pet Refuges were released in the Herald.

Tonight that target was not only reached, but surpassed - and now stands at $252,954.

And another $25,000 is yet to come from a dollar-for-dollar match promise by a pet supply company.

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Pet Refuge will be built in the Auckland area to house animals until their owners can leave their abusers and resettle in violence-free homes.

Cats, dogs and other small pets will be cared for on site and larger animals like horses will be kept at one of a network of safe farms.

The initiative is the brainchild of KidsCan founder Julie Chapman.

"We did it, it's amazing," said Chapman soon after the target was reached.

"It's incredible ... I'm pretty much speechless."

Plans for the shelter were announced the same day a new Women's Refuge study was released showing hundreds of victims delay leaving abusers every year in New Zealand because they fear what will happen to their animals.

Many have been threatened that their animal will be harmed or killed - or forced to watch those things happen, often with their children.

Pet Refuge - Emma's Story

Chapman, who once experienced an abusive relationship, said it was important to remove barriers and enable victims to leave.

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Creating the shelter removed a very real barrier for victims scared or worried about their pets.

Chapman and her family purchased the land for the facility and the Lindsay Foundation has stepped in to help fund the building.

However $250,000 was needed for the fit out - beds, enclosures, play areas, toys and medical supplies for the animals, some of which may be housed for months.

A PledgeMe fundraising page was set up to enable people to help make Chapman's dream come to life.

Chapman called on Kiwis to help get her shelter up and running and in the first week - after details of Pet Refuge were revealed in a three-day Herald series - donations poured in and reached more than $120,000.

Donations to a shelter for animals affected by domestic violence will be matched today.
Donations to a shelter for animals affected by domestic violence will be matched today.

Last week animal supply company PetStock offered to match today's donations dollar-for-dollar up to $25,000.

The aim was to raise $50,000 in a day and boost the fundraising effort.

At 5am today the PledgeMe page total was $139,197.

By 2.30pm the $25,000 target had been reached and was to be matched by PetStock.

By 4.40pm the total had hit $192,000 after an anonymous $20,000 donation.

And just before 6pm the total surged to more than $253,100 after a $60,000 single donation.

The money from PetStock is yet to be donated - meaning when it is the total donated will be in excess of $278,100.

Chapman said the generosity shown to Pet Refuge was much appreciated.

"It's so amazing, I just can't believe it ... in seven days," she exclaimed.

All extra funds will be used to care for the animals once the shelter is up and running.

It is expected to be opened in April next year.

New Zealand has the worst reported rate of domestic violence in the developed world and the Women's Refuge survey-based research found 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.

The survey of almost 1000 domestic violence victims who had experienced a partner abusing or threatening a pet 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: http://pldg.me/petrefuge

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 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Pet Refuge petrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.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

PET REFUGE: THE SERIES

MONDAY May 20

TUESDAY May 21

WEDNESDAY May 22