A study has found a third of women in abusive relationships put off leaving their partners because they feared for the lives of their pets.
More than 230 women were interviewed last year as part of a survey commissioned by the SPCA and Women's Refuge.
The report found nearly a third those surveyed prolonged their departure because their partners threatened to hurt or kill their pets.
More than half the women said their partner had previously threatened to kill their animals, while a third had witnessed the injury or death of one of their pets.
Women's Refuge says the results show animals are widely becoming part of an arsenal of tricks that abusers use to instil fear and control over their family members.
Chief executive Heather Henare says it is hoped local organisations such as the SPCA can step in and help when women need to find somewhere to keep their pets safe.
Ms Henare says pets are rarely welcome at private rental properties and refuges cannot take them.