December 17, 2014

Home for the Holidays: An Update on Peppah

In July, we told you the story of Peppah, a Chihuahua who was separated from her family in the wake of domestic violence. Today we have a happy update on Peppah’s story.

In the fall of 2013, Maria*, 34, escaped domestic violence with her children but couldn’t find a single shelter in New York City that was willing to accept her dog, Peppah. She turned to Urban Resources Institute (URI), a non-profit agency that provides shelter for domestic violence survivors and their pets. The creation of its PALS Program (People and Animals Living Safely) established New York City’s first and only domestic violence shelter that allows pets.

The ASPCA provided a $75,000 grant in support of PALS, which includes an array of services ranging from veterinary care to foster assistance. Maria and her children were the first family to reside in this URI safe haven with a dog. 

But Maria and Peppah’s story didn’t end there. When the time came for the family to move out of URI and into transitional housing, Maria was unable to bring Peppah with her. For eight long months, she and her children were separated from their dog, who was sent to live in a foster home. They visited Peppah twice during their time apart, but ached for a more permanent reunion. “We always spoke about Peppah as if she were here—even though she wasn’t,” said Maria. “She was never far from our minds.”

On Friday, December 12, Maria and her children were joyfully reunited with Peppah. Dara Ruiz and Colleen Doherty, of the ASPCA’s CIA (Cruelty Intervention Advocacy) team, facilitated the reunion by driving Peppah to the five-story walk-up where Maria waited.

“Where’s my baby?!” she squealed as Peppah, clad in a red sweater, squealed back before leaping into Maria’s arms and licking her face. Inside the apartment, Maria’s children couldn’t contain their excitement, either. They smiled and laughed at the arrival of their beloved pet and took turns cuddling her. Peppah lapped it up, climbing onto their shoulders and bounding on and off the lower bunk bed, her tail wagging non-stop.

“I’m so overly grateful, I’ve been crying all week,” said Maria, brushing aside tears. “All we wanted for Christmas was our dog, and now she’s here.”

Colleen and Dara left dog food, treats and other items for Peppah, and the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals paid the pet deposit fee for the family’s new apartment.

On Monday, December 15, Maria and her children—both two- and four-legged—were together again, packed up in their car and off to a new home, just in time for the holidays.

*Name has been changed to preserve anonymity. 

Black and white chihuahua walking on grass