Heartbreaking new research has found that more than 50 per cent of women delays leaving abusive relationships for fear of what will happen to their pets.
In response to this statistic – which was collected from a survey by the Women’s Refuge - a new organisation has launched in hopes of removing that barrier for women looking to escape domestic violence.
Pet Refuge is being set up as a safe place where pets can be temporarily housed while their owners escape.
An absolute tear-jerker of a video has been launched alongside the service, to show what a difference Pet Refuge could make.
The advert shows the special bond a dog has with its owner, a woman who is trying to leave her abusive husband.
The most harrowing moment of the clip, however, is when the woman is getting ready to leave the home with her children, only to realise her beloved pet is being held by her abuser.
Pet Refuge is the brainchild of KidsCan founder and chief executive Julie Chapman.
Chapman, who has had her own experience with domestic violence, was horrified when she heard about the issue of pet abuse within domestic harm and approached the Women's Refuge to partner with her on the initiative.
Photo / Pet Refuge
"There are a lot of different things going on which prevent women from leaving domestic violence and not wanting to leave their animals behind is one of them," she told the NZ Herald.
"Our position is, let's remove the barrier so we can make it easier for them to leave.
"Pets become like family and quite frankly you wouldn't leave anyone in your family behind, would you?"
New Zealand's first shelter dedicated to housing pets affected by family violence is being built. Pet Refuge will provide a temporary safe haven for pets, while their owners escape abuse. But, your help is needed to make that happen.
To donate to the shelter build visit: PledgeMe
If you're in danger now:
- Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours or 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
- The Hits, additional reporting by NZ Herald