Rotary backs pet shelter project

Cambridge Rotary’s charity fundraising dinner will have Kiwi driving legend Greg Murphy as its guest speaker. Organisers of the April 16 event, which starts at 6pm, are keen to sell as many tickets as possible and are seeking sponsorship from local businesses to cover the cost of the dinner. They are also looking for donated items suitable for the evening’s auction. More details, and tickets, are from Laurie Graham (0274 767 362), David Partis (027 449 1410), or Bev Maul-Rogers (027 519 0710).

Cambridge Rotarians David Partis, Laurie Graham and Bev Maul-Rogers (right) with representatives of the Pet Refuge New Zealand Charitable Trust, Annie Kane and Sophie Mowday.

Cambridge Rotary’s Charity Dinner on April 16 will focus on raising funds to provide shelter for family pets increasingly caught up in the cycle of domestic abuse.

Organisers of the event at Lake Karapiro’s Don Rowland Centre have named the Pet Refuge New Zealand Charitable Trust as its main beneficiary in 2021.  Any remaining profit will be distributed within the Cambridge community.

The Trust is building a purpose-designed ‘pet refuge’ shelter north of Auckland that it hopes will be open by mid-2021.  It will offer free temporary accommodation for pets belonging to victims of domestic abuse, keeping the animals safe while their owners, either men or women, escape their abusive environment. Dogs are said to be most commonly impacted, followed by cats and then cows.

The annual charity dinner project is being led by Cambridge Rotarian Laurie Graham, who said the suggestion the club made Pet Refuge the 2021 beneficiary had come from his daughter, who is a keen supporter of the charity.

“We looked into it and decided to invite them to join with us in this project.  We’re running the dinner both as a fundraiser and as an opportunity to raise awareness of the issue, and what Pet Refuge does to help,” he said.

A group of Cambridge Rotarians hosted a planning meeting recently with two Auckland-based members of Pet Refuge New Zealand Charitable Trust – Sophie Mowday who is general manager of fundraising and marketing, and marketing co-ordinator Annie Kane.

Sophie said surveys showed that around 53 percent of women delay leaving an abusive environment for fear of what might happen to their pets.  Around 23 percent of abuse victims reported having an animal killed by their partner, and 73 percent said they would find it easier to leave a violent home if there was a shelter offering temporary accommodation for their pets.

“We remove that barrier and care for their pets temporarily, allowing them time to find a new home. We will then reunite the pets with their owners in a safe environment,” she said. “The arrangement is to provide temporary shelter, with the key objective to get the animals back to their owner once they are safe.”

Pet Refuge partners with Shine, a leading specialist domestic violence service provider, Women’s Refuge, and the Lindsay Foundation, who offers support to individuals and organisations aiding in areas of animal welfare, children, disabilities and health.

Those needing temporary accommodation for their pets will be referred through those groups. Animals can be transported from around New Zealand to the shelter where their physical and mental needs will be assessed and met by veterinarians and animal behaviourists.

The shelter will have the capacity to house about 20 dogs, 35 cats and a number of smaller animals. Larger animals will be transported to a network of ‘foster’ properties around the country offered by their owners as safe spaces.  Many landowners in the Waikato have joined the network.

Sophie said the service’s annual running costs were likely to be between $1.2 and $1.3 million.

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