When a 34-year-old woman made the difficult decision to flee from domestic violence in her home, she ran into an immediate roadblock: her Chihuahua, Peppah. Though recent studies show that 70 percent of domestic violence perpetrators also threatened, injured, or killed their pets, this woman couldn’t find a single shelter in New York City that was willing to take both her and Peppah in. Desperate, she turned to the Mayor’s Alliance of New York City, who agreed to foster the dog temporarily while she looked for a solution. That solution finally came in the form of Urban Resources Institute (URI).
URI is a non-profit agency that provides safe shelter not only for domestic violence survivors, but for their pets as well. Their PALS Program (People and Animals Living Safely) marks the creation of New York City’s first and only domestic violence shelter that allows pets—and with studies showing that nearly half of domestic violence victims delayed fleeing out of fear for their animals, this resource could not have come at a more crucial time.
“Lack of pet-friendly sheltering options places animals and people at risk of continued violence and harm,” says Allison Cardona, Senior Director of Cruelty Intervention Advocacy at the ASPCA. “The PALS program is a life-saving initiative that keeps families together and should inspire other providers to follow suit.”
Once in the URI shelter, the woman and her children were reunited with Peppah.”The kids—when finally we got here, they didn’t even want to go to school that day,” she said. “They just wanted to stay home and be with her.”
In February, the ASPCA announced a $75,000 grant in support of URI PALS. In addition to financial support, our partnership with the program also includes an array of services ranging from veterinary care to foster assistance. So when the time came for the woman and her family to leave URI and transition into more permanent housing, the ASPCA’s own Jamie Scotto stepped in.
A Senior Manager in our Shelter Research and Development department, Jamie brought Peppah into her home as a foster so that the woman could work on getting into long-term housing. “I wanted to give her the opportunity to focus on the rest of her life,” says Jamie. “I saw first-hand that just a few weeks of foster care can mean the difference between an animal being surrendered and that animal staying with their family.”
In addition to our work with URI, the ASPCA is on the ground in several states around the country spearheading legal efforts to include pets in orders of protection. We are committed to keeping domestic violence survivors and their pets together, and though Jamie and Peppah have grown close, we cannot wait for the day when this sweet dog and her family are reunited in a safe, permanent home.
After delivering Mabel at the Great Plains SPCA, our team headed to Lincoln, Nebraska to deliver Iso to his temporary home at the Capital Humane Society. Iso enjoyed a bowl of kibble al fresco before arriving at the shelter, where he settled down in the grass to relax with his new human friends. Iso is a happy dog who loves to make canine buddies, and his favorite activity is to settle into your lap! If you would like to adopt Iso, please contact the Capital Humane Society.
For our last stop, our team traveled nearly 500 miles to Longmont, Colorado, a town outside of Denver. On the morning of the Fourth of July, the last of the #FreedomDogs, Wickham and Fitz, arrived at the Longmont Humane Society. There, both dogs will receive behavioral enrichment to gain confidence. Our transport team saw firsthand how these dogs began to come out of their shells along the ride. By the end of the road trip, Wickham showed his silly, playful personality and Fitz greeted us with eager tail wags. Follow Longmont Humane for updates on their progress.
While the trip is over, the journey for these dogs continues as they wait to find loving homes. Check out our #FreedomDogs hashtag and Facebook album to view photos and updates from the transport, and stay tuned for news to come as Nightwing, Valentino, Mabel, Iso, Wickham and Fitz find their forever homes.
After driving more than 900 miles from our starting point, the team made its first stop at the Humane Society of Tulsa in Oklahoma, where we delivered two dogs, Nightwing and Valentino, to be made ready for adoption. Nightwing was a bit nervous upon arrival, but once our team placed him in the shelter’s play area, it was clear that he felt right at home. Valentino also settled in just fine.
If you’re in the Tulsa area and are interested in adopting Nightwing or Valentino, please contact the Humane Society of Tulsa. Nightwing would love to be your wingman for the day or night and won’t leave your side. He’s known to be a skilled snuggler. Valentino has a kind heart and adopters are sure to fall in love with him! He’s been trained to sit, lay, roll over and spin in circles.
Next, the team drove 250 miles to the Great Plains SPCA’s campus in Independence, Missouri, where Mabel will wait to find her new home. Mabel was thrilled to arrive at Great Plains SPCA, and rolled around in the grass to show her excitement. Our team reports that Mabel is a petite and friendly dog who loves attention. If you’re interested in adopting Mabel, please contact Great Plains SPCA.
We’ve still got two stops to go on our transport! You can follow the journey on the ASPCA Blog, our Instagram feed and by searching the hashtag #FreedomDogs on your social media channels.
Once delivered to these receiving shelters, all six dogs will be made available for adoption. We’re so excited that these dogs will have the chance to begin new lives as beloved pets. Stay tuned for more news to come as the ASPCA team continues on the ultimate summer road trip to save animals’ lives. In addition to the ASPCA Blog, you can check out our Instagram account and follow the hashtag #FreedomDogs for photos and updates from the road.
Want to stay up-to-date on the latest transport news?
Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter, ASPCA News Alert - you'll receive important updates on what's going on and how you can make an impact to save animals' lives!
As the nation’s second-largest animal welfare grantmaker, the ASPCA is constantly on the lookout for innovative, inspiring, and admirable programs that can benefit from our support. When we first heard about our latest grantee, Operation Blankets of Love, we knew we had found one such program.
Based in Los Angeles, Operation Blankets of Love (OBOL) is a grassroots organization that connects human services to animal welfare in a very unique way. Recognizing that many homeless people have the same love, dedication, and commitment to their pets’ well-being as more fortunate people do, OBOL’s current project—Homeless People’s Pets Community Outreach Project—will provided critical services to homeless people and their pets who are living in shelters or on the streets of L.A.
“Our program’s primary goal is to provide basic supplies and services to keep pets of the homeless happy and healthy, so that they can stay with their loving human companions rather than being relinquished to crowded city and county animals shelters with high euthanasia rates,” says Eileen Smulson, Founder & President of OBOL.
Tessa Madden, Development Coordinator at PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) has worked with Operation Blankets of Love for over three years. “They actively donate care, comfort and pet items that the residents need for their pets,” she says. “This includes necessary pet items they need to keep their dog or cat healthy and happy—food, treats, pet beds, blankets, towels, leashes, collars, toys, grooming supplies, and more.” In addition to these comfort/care items, OBOL also raises funds to provide spay and neuter surgeries for animals in need.
An ASPCA grant of $5,000 will help OBOL deliver needed items and resources to pet families living at eight shelters and social service centers or on the street, and in collaboration with organizations serving the homeless. While OBOL is able to procure much of their supplies through generous in-kind donations from corporations, foundations, and the public, the ASPCA grant will help defray delivery, transportation, and other operational costs to get the pet food and comfort/care items to where they’re needed most.