Work is underway on New Zealand’s first shelter for pets affected by family violence, but neighbours are angry that consent for the facility was granted without public notification.
The Pet Refuge, which was hugely supported by crowd funding, charity auctions and other fundraising initiatives – including more than $250,000 donated via the website Pledge Me – will provide a temporary safe haven for pets, free of charge, while their owners escape abuse.
Women’s Refuge research last year found that more than half of the women affected by pet abuse as part of domestic violence delay leaving out of fear for their pet’s safety.
However, despite the positive benefits that the facility will have, the arrival of the Pet Refuge in Rodney has not been welcomed by all with open arms.
At least one neighbour is taking legal action, applying for an injunction to stop works and seeking a judicial review of the resource consent that was granted last September on a non-notified basis.
“Under the Unitary Plan zoning, this land use activity is not permitted in this area, yet Council did not consider the impacts on us when granting the consent,” one neighbour says. “If they had known they wouldn’t have approved it. The noise assessment is inadequate and highly questionable. I am sure that those who offered letters of support wouldn’t want it right by their home. Now we are burdened with hugely expensive legal action as the only option open to us.”
Several neighbours, while supportive of the refuge in principle, are unhappy that they did not get the opportunity to make submissions on the consent application, as they say the refuge could have significant impacts upon their lives. The facility is expected to cater for a maximum of 24 dogs, 35 cats and 30 small animals such as birds, rabbits and guinea pigs, at any one time. Neighbours’ concerns include the potential for noise, disease and stress to have an impact on them and their animals, as well as the effects on their physical and psychological security and property values.
Pet Refuge founder Julie Chapman says there will be extensive planting and soundproofing on the site.
The aim is to make the shelter as inconspicuous as possible. She says there are many other kennels already in the region.
Auckland Council’s resource consents North West manager, Ian Dobson, says Council followed all required steps in the consent process including a thorough assessment by an experienced planner, site visits, input from various council specialists and peer reviews.
He says the proposal was granted as the actual and potential effects are deemed less than minor and therefore acceptable under the Resource Management Act provisions.
“Like the vast majority of applications assessed by councils throughout the country, this proposal proceeded without public notification,” he says. “This proposal was not deemed to have adverse effects on the environment or people, which is the trigger for notification.”
Editor’s note: Names have been withheld to protect the location of the refuge.