Fears grow for domestic violence victims and pets as some seek shelter in their cars

Fears are growing for domestic violence victims and their pets with some even having to seek shelter in their cars.

But some organisations are stepping in to help all victims of abusive relationships.

Escaping domestic violence is hard, escaping with a pet is even harder.

"Domestic violence against people and their pets is significant," said Pet Refuge owner Julie Chapman.

But not all safe houses are set up to accommodate pets.

"Pet Refuge was set up to house the pets of the victims of family violence," Chapman said.

Pet Refuge gets calls for help every day and the cry for assistance over the holidays has increased.

"One day had seven and on another had nine," Chapman said. "The need is extremely high and we've been at capacity for eight-nine months now."

She said often pets are used as pawns in an abusive relationship.

Over the last year, police have responded to 175,000 cases of family violence, about one incident every three minutes.

"NZ has the highest rates of family violence in the OECD. Early January through to when school starts is really one of our peak times, which is sad," said Women's Refuge CEO Dr Ang Jury.

Pet Refuge is doing its best to step in and help victims make the decision to leave an unsafe home a little easier in the hope that there is a better outcome for all.

Where to find help and support: