A play area, aviary, chew proof beds, collars and kitty litter are just some of the items a new Pet Refuge shelter will now be able to buy thanks to your generosity.

Herald readers have helped raise nearly $300,000 for the new shelter which will temporarily care for up to 500 pets a year, removing one of the barriers that prevent victims from leaving domestic violence.

A Pledge Me campaign, supported by the Herald, was launched in May with a target of $250,000 to help pay for the internal fitout.

It not only exceeded that target but is now at nearly $300,000 - a day before it officially closes.


Pet Refuge founder Julie Chapman, who used family money to buy the land for the shelter, says members of the charity were "overwhelmed" after reaching their target of $250,000 on May 27 - after just eight days.

"Thank you to all the Herald readers who have supported us, and NZME for getting behind us. You are helping us remove a major barrier to victims escaping family violence," Chapman said.

Julie Chapman, the founder of Pet Refuge. Photo / Michael Craig
Julie Chapman, the founder of Pet Refuge. Photo / Michael Craig

"Sadly we have also heard from many people who have shared their stories of pet abuse as part of family violence, and how they wish Pet Refuge was available when they needed it.

"These stories just strengthen our resolve to get the shelter up and running as soon as we can."

The role of the Pet Refuge is to temporarily house vulnerable pets - including cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and birds - while their owners leave abusers and find safety in new accommodation.

what the Pet Refuge shelter will look like. Photo / Supplied
what the Pet Refuge shelter will look like. Photo / Supplied

The need was highlighted following Women's Refuge research that found a fear for their beloved pet's safety is one reason people delay leaving their abuser.

Most can't take their pets with them when seeking refuge and fear they will be harmed or killed if they're left behind.

Artist impression of the Pet Refuge cat play area. Photo / Supplied
Artist impression of the Pet Refuge cat play area. Photo / Supplied

The survey found 53 per cent of victims whose partners had abused or threatened to abuse their pets found, delayed leaving.

Nearly a quarter had had an animal killed by their partner and nearly three quarters said they would have found it easier to leave if there was a shelter offering temporary accommodation for their pets.

It is projected the shelter, which is based at an undisclosed location in the wider Auckland region, will start caring for its first vulnerable pets in 2020, once construction has been completed. It will take pets from New Zealand.

Chapman said every dollar raised above the $250,000 target will go towards caring for the pets.

"We still need your support. We've now raised enough money to complete the internal fit out of the shelter, so we can create a calm, comforting environment for these pets," she said.

"But we need help with running costs, including employing expert staff, transporting pets from around the country, and food. To donate visit petrefuge.org.nz."

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