When a family is in crisis it can make all the difference to know their best friend is being looked after.
Wellington Police’s Dog Section has given Porirua Women’s Refuge - Te Whare Tiaki Wahine - a refurbished kennel and run for times when a family just can’t leave their dog.
The project arose from a conversation between refuge manager Caroline Herewini ONZM and Constable Rob Eastham, of Porirua’s family harm team, about potential complications in trying to help families when a pet is involved.
Rob, who fosters police dog puppies, contacted Sergeant Nick Prince, of Wellington Dog Section – his training sergeant - and asked if he could help.
Nick sourced a surplus kennel from Police’s Dog Training Centre (DTC) at Trentham and carried out the refurbishment.
Porirua’s Mitre 10 Mega provided materials and tools, and the city’s Animates store provided leads, bowls and other goodies. The DTC also donated dog food.
“Often what we see if a pet is left behind is that it becomes a point of leverage – ‘If you leave I won’t feed the dog’ and the like,” says Rob.
“It’s about removing barriers – one barrier is the idea that ‘We’ve got a dog so we can’t leave’. Now they can continue to look after their dog.”
Nick says the project took about a month from Rob’s approach to the hand-over at Porirua Police Station last week. He thanked Mitre 10, Animates and the DTC for their help.
“Their support meant we weren’t just handing over a dog kennel – it was the whole package,” says Nick.
“I saw this as a very worthwhile cause as it assists in getting some families out of destructive environments and prevents potential cruelty, mistreatment or neglect of dogs that may otherwise be left behind.”
Caroline says the refuge is extremely grateful for the support. “The response was so immediate – it’s absolutely fantastic.”
She says the Porirua refuge is the only one in New Zealand which includes an animal shelter. The refuge already has one kennel – bought on Trade Me, says Caroline, and not in the best of repair.
“This gives us the capacity to reach out to more families,” she says. “Some families are hesitant to leave home because their pets are still there – it becomes a matter of power and control over women and their children.
“Now we can bring them in, they can be safe and have peace of mind.”
Animates Porirua store manager Charlotte McGrath says the company was pleased to be asked.
“Being involved in the community is something Animates feels really strongly about,” she says. “For me personally, having seen friends’ experiences and knowing how devastating it can be to leave pets behind, this is a really important cause.”
It is hoped the relationship will be a lasting one, with further support – such as Dog Section providing care and training tips to families, repairs to the other kennel and donation of surplus food by Animates and the DTC - under consideration.