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ASPCA Grant Helps Domestic Violence Survivors and Their Pets Find Refuge Together

Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 10:45am
(Photo credit: Jordan H. Star)

It’s hard enough for survivors of domestic violence to navigate the complicated emotional and logistical terrain of leaving home for safe shelter—and adding pets into the equation makes these situations even more stressful. Some stay in abusive relationships to protect their beloved pets, while others have no choice but to leave them behind. Because animals often are used as pawns in domestic disputes, this heartbreaking choice can lead to tragedy.

New York’s Urban Resource Institute (URI),  a non-profit human services organization dedicated to helping New York’s most vulnerable populations, wants to solve this problem—and the ASPCA is stepping up to help.

We’re awarding a $75,000 grant to URI’s innovative PALS (People and Animals Living Safely) program, which enables clients at URI’s largest domestic violence shelter to bring pets with them. Since its launch in June 2013, the program has welcomed many cats; it began accepting dogs this month. This is New York City’s first-ever initiative to house survivors of domestic violence with their pets in a shelter setting.

(Photo credit: Jordan H. Star)

“We’re honored to participate in an innovative program that provides safe shelter for both domestic violence victims and their pets,” says ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker. “This program keeps people and pets together during times of crisis, protects them both, and preserves the special bond with a companion animal—often a major source of comfort and stability. We’d love to see it expand to other emergency shelters throughout the city and nationwide.”

In addition to the grant, the ASPCA will offer assistance via its Animal Hospital by providing services including medical exams, vaccinations, behavioral support, spay/neuter surgery and fostering. The ASPCA’s Cruelty Intervention Advocacy team will also provide support and offer critical resources to pet owners who find themselves and their animals in unstable situations.

Studies estimate that as many as 48% of victims of domestic violence remain in abusive situations for fear of what would happen if they left their pets behind, and that more than 70% of pet-owning women entering domestic violence shelters report that abusers have threatened, harmed or killed a family pet. By working together, ASPCA and URI hope to increase awareness about the impact of abuse on every member of the family—including pets—and encourage increased partnership between animal welfare and domestic violence communities nationwide.

(Photo credit: Jordan H. Star)

This cat has been living at URI’s largest emergency shelter with its owner for the past several months as part of the URIPALS program.

All photos courtesy of Jordan H. Star. 

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Joan Lucera

Wonderful story! Thanks for providing this grant and for letting us know about this much-needed program.


my friend's step-aunt makes $77 /hr on the laptop . She has been out of work for six months but last month her pay check was $16953 just working on the laptop for a few hours. look at this now,,,,,,,,,,,,,, F­­I­Z­Z­J­O­B­.C­O­M


I am looking for a job working from home Is it a legitmate business


Great Idea!

Helle Sannig

ASPCA - you rock!!!!


I hope other states will adopt this program as well. This is GREAT !!!


This program is a MUST for anyone who is in a volatile relationship and in fear of leaving their pets behind. Great job, ASPCA!


I wish more domestic violence shelters allowed pets.


We have an organization here in the Orlando, FL area called Harbor House, that recently built a shelter on their grounds for this. Until they started their building campaign, I never even thought about the need for such a thing. What an eye opener! I would love to see this type of thing spread! I can only begin to imagine the horrible choice of enduring abuse in order to save my beloved pets. The guilt would be unbearable.
Hopefully, this collaboration will help get the word out and enable more domestic violence shelters to be able to offer this type of service. THANK YOU!

Barbara Los angeles

This makes my heart soar. For years I have visioned building bungalows with fenced yards to accommodate families and their furry friends who are victims of domestic abuse and in need of safe havens.
I stayed in an abusive relationship for fear my dog would be harmed and had no safe place to go that wouldn't have put my family or friends in harms way.
Hopefully more shelters will be able to welcome the entire family and not have women forced to make such painful decisions. Kudos to all those working with these families and helping them build new safe and productive lives.