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Pet Refuge Charitable Trust Welcoming Introduction Of Pet Bonds

Pet Refuge hopes the introduction of Pet Bonds will lead to more families finding safe homes for themselves and their pets after fleeing family violence.

The government has today announced it will make changes to the Residential Tenancies Act to make it easier for tenants to find pet-friendly properties.

Pet Refuge provides temporary shelter for the pets of people escaping abuse, and pets often end up staying with us for longer term care as people struggle to find secure and suitable accommodation for their furry family members.

“We always hope to be able to reunite owners with their pets as soon as possible, but we’ve had some animals in our care for months at a time while their pet parent searches high and low for somewhere that will take them both” says Pet Refuge CEO and founder Julie Chapman.

“While Pet Refuge always want to reunite pets with their owners, finding rental accommodation that will allow them is so hard, that there have been times where we’ve had to find the pet a new loving forever home because it has been impossible for their family to find a place they can all live in safety together.

“It’s heart-breaking that owners have to part with their much-loved pet because they can’t find a rental to take them both. Many of the people we help describe their pet as their rock, their protector and source of comfort, and keeping them in their lives is a huge part of their recovery.”

Since opening its doors in 2021, Pet Refuge has cared for more 450 pets whose owners have escaped family violence. While the charity aims to never turn away a pet, the shelter is often at capacity and has been forced to operate waitlists.

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We believe the changes announced today will mean more pets can be reunited with their families sooner, enabling us to help those that are waiting for our support.


Founded by Julie Chapman and open since 2021, Pet Refuge aims to remove a major barrier to pets and their families escaping domestic violence.

We work with NZ Police, Women’s Refuge, Shine, Family Action, and other domestic violence agencies to assist pets via referrals also take self-referrals. We transport pets from around New Zealand to provide a national service for families affected by domestic violence. The location of the shelter is kept confidential to protect the safety of the pets, women and children assisted by Pet Refuge.

The shelter houses dogs, cats, birds, and other small pets and has been designed to give animals comfort and security. There are no wire cages, the enclosures have underfloor heating and are specially designed to give a space to sleep, play and feel secure. There are play areas with climbing structures, an obstacle course, and beds for lounging in the sun.

Family Violence in New Zealand

New Zealand has the highest reported rate of family violence in the OECD. New Zealand also has the second highest rate of pet ownership globally.

Research has established that where women are at risk, animals are also at risk.

2018 Women’s Refuge research of women whose partners had abused or threated to abuse their pets found:

  • 22% of their children witnesses pet abuse.
  • 23% had an animal killed by their partner.
  • 53% delayed leaving because of fears for their pets’ safety.
  • 73% would have found it easier to leave if there was a shelter offering temporary accommodation for their pets.

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