PALS sheltering domestic violence victims and their pets


Photo c/o Urban Resource Institute

Just in time for Women’s History Month, the ASPCA (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) announced that they will award a grant of $75,000 to The Urban Resource Institute (URI) for domestic violence victims and their pets. Not only will the grant allow pets into their shelters but it will also provide services through the ASPCA Animal Hospital to cover medical exams, vaccinations, behavioral support, spay/neutering services, and fostering.

In June 2013, URI started the first ever pilot program in New York City that allowed those entering their Urban Women’s Safe Haven shelter to bring pets. The pilot program included 10 pet-friendly apartments in Brooklyn through their PALS (People and Animals Living Safely) program. At first they were only accepting cats and other small animals, but started to accept dogs last month. Along with allowing owners to stay with their pets, they also provided crates, food, toys, and litter boxes.

While it may seem that there is not a connection between domestic violence victims and their beloved pets, research has been proving otherwise. A 1999 study by Frank R. Ascione revealed that 71% of women in a domestic violence shelter reported that their partner had threatened, hurt, or killed their pets. Several other studies have estimated that between 18%-48% of battered women have delayed their decision to leave their abuser or have returned to their abuser out of fear for the welfare of their pets. Additionally, 68% reported that their abusers would use violence against pets in order to psychologically control or coerce women and their children. These studies show that pets are an integral part in family life and human issues are increasingly becoming interchangeable with animal welfare issues.

If you are a victim of domestic violence or believe someone else is a victim of abuse URI has a 24-hour Domestic Violence hotline: 1-888-279-2211 or 1-888-252-2890. They also have awareness tips for those with pets.