An animal shelter for pets caught up in domestic violence is facing resistance from neighbours who are worried about the potential noise and security risks.

Construction has begun on the Pet Refuge north of Auckland, which was set up by Kidscan founder Julie Chapman to house the pets of victims who were fleeing abusive relationships.

Women's Refuge research found nearly three quarters of women in relationships where partners abused, or threatened to abuse animals, would have found it easier to leave if their was a shelter for their pets.

Some neighbours say they should have been consulted given the scale and risks associated with the facility, which will have capacity for 90 animals.


However, Auckland Council said Chapman did not need to notify neighbours because it would have a "less than minor" impact on the rural site.

Chapman has also moved to reassure those concerned that there is no research to indicate an increased risk to safety.

One neighbour, who lives close to the shelter, dropped leaflets in 15 letterboxes which warned that the refuge was "coming to a place near you".

The leaflet, which had a picture of Chapman on it, cast doubt on the council's noise-testing and disease-management measures, and said the refuge could impact neighbours' property values.

"My main concern is that it was non-notified," she said. The first she learned of it was when Chapman came to her house and showed her the plans two weeks ago.

One man, who lived on the same street, said his bedroom was around 130 metres from the refuge.

"I'm a lifelong insomniac. I'm quite concerned this will affect my sleep badly. Twenty-five dogs barking all night - I don't think I will get much rest here."

Other neighbours - including one who moved to the area to escape a violent relationship - were worried about abusers turning up in their neighbourhood to claim their pets.

Chapman said she was advised by Women's Refuge that facilities like safe houses had not created risks for neighbouring properties.


"The CEO told us the following. 'I know there is a feeling out there that somehow facilities like Women's Refuge create risk for neighbouring properties but in my experience this simply hasn't been the case'."

There was also no evidence that the Pet Refuge would hurt property values in the area, Chapman said.

A refuge for pets from homes with domestic violence is being built north of Auckland.
A refuge for pets from homes with domestic violence is being built north of Auckland.

After the leaflet drop, Chapman's lawyers sent a letter to some of the neighbours, accusing them of a "campaign of negativity" which could undermine the secrecy of the location. The exact location is being kept secret to and ensure violent or abusive partners can't locate the pets.

Chapman's lawyers later sent another letter which warned residents that their actions amounted to harassment.

"In the event that this harassment is not discontinued, our clients will consider the criminal offence of harassment has occurred."

Auckland Council resource consents manager Ian Dobson said resource consent had been granted for the shelter, which was on land zoned as "rural production".

The consent process included a thorough assessment by an experienced planner, site visits, input from council specialists on noise and traffic, and peer reviews, he said.

"This proposal was not deemed to have adverse effects on the environment or people, which is the trigger for notification."

Chapman bought the land with family money and, with the help of a Herald campaign, has raised nearly $300,000 towards the outfit of the refuge. It is expected to be completed in April.