Pets at refuge
The Porirua refuge Te Whare Tiaki Wahine has moved to a new six-bedroom safe house and it is the first Women’s Refuge to have an animal shelter on site.
Hutches, a dog run and a small shelter are in the process of being installed so that families can bring their pets with them to the refuge.
A recent research report confirmed a link between animal abuse and domestic violence, says refuge manager Caroline Herewini, with one in three women saying they delayed leaving a violent relationship because of pets in the family.
‘‘ We have noticed a steady increase of women who come to us with their pets. So when we knew we could move into this new safe house, we decided to see if we could have something special for rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs and cats.’’
Not all refuges are able to provide an on-site service, but they are working with the SPCA to provide a service to women who need it in other areas of New Zealand, says Women’s Refuge chief executive Heather Henare.
Te Whare Tiaki Wahine has a 30-year history of providing safety to women and children in the Porirua region and is one of two in the area.
The home was opened by Housing Minister Phil Heatley last week.
‘‘Women’s Refuge do a fantastic job supporting women and children in crisis, and now taking an extra step here, to look after pets as well as people.
‘‘This removes a major worry for those who feel they can’t leave their pets in a violent home,’’ he said.