Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick have taken to Twitter to help us spread the word about URI’s #DVfree video campaign! URI is so grateful for their support. Please retweet their messages (@kevinbacon and @kyrasedgwick) and follow their lead: Post your own photo and message on Facebook and Twitter about your commitment to help make the world free of domestic violence. Please watch the videos and share these courageous survivor stories with your social networks: www.urinyc.org/dvfree
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Rita Garza of URI and domestic violence survivor Pamela Isaac spoke about the impact of the URIPALS program at the Purina #BetterWithPets Summit in New York City on October 14. Isaac, who was able to bring her three cats with her into shelter because of URIPALS, spoke movingly about what it meant to her to be able to keep her pets with her. Purina, a URIPALS sponsor and partner, invited URI to participate in the summit, which was streamed live online to a worldwide audience. The presentation was one of 15 by a range of experts who highlighted the importance of the relationship between people and pets.
The “DV Free” campaign will roll out a series of never-before-seen survivor video testimonials, calling on Americans to stand up for a world free of domestic violence
NEW YORK – October 1, 2014 – To kick off Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Urban Resource Institute (URI), New York City’s first and only domestic violence services provider to open its doors to pets, today announced the launch of its national video campaign, titled “DV Free.” The video series profiles domestic violence survivors who are coming forward to share their stories publicly for the very first time, with the goal of raising critical awareness about our collective responsibility to stand up for a world free of domestic violence.
“There has never been a more critical time to stand up against abuse,” said Nathaniel Fields, President and CEO of the Urban Resource Institute. “We know that an alarming one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, and that’s one too many. By leading the charge for a world free of domestic violence, the Urban Resource Institute is calling on everyone to do their part—whether big or small—to help end the cycle of violence and pledge their commitment to becoming DV free.”
Throughout October, URI will unveil new videos each week, offering a rare glimpse into the dark realities of domestic violence from different vantage points, including men, children, and families with pets. Each video showcases the diverse ways that abuse—whether physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, or economic—has no boundaries and affects people of all ages, races and socio-economic backgrounds. Viewers will be encouraged to share the videos widely via social media platforms, using the hashtag #DVfree.
Among the domestic violence survivors sharing the intimate stories of their abuse:
Titi, 29, was in an abusive relationship for nearly three years. To escape the abuse one day, she jumped off her second-story balcony and broke her leg from her knee down to her ankle; she was hospitalized for five months as a result. As she began her healing process at URI, Titi said, “I feel like I’m releasing a lot of things I went through—all my pain. I don’t have to look over my shoulder anymore.”
Linda, 60, demonstrates that domestic violence can affect any of us. A successful entrepreneur who owns a clothing boutique on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and sponsors clothing drives and other activities that benefit URI’s shelter residents, Linda was in an abusive relationship for 15 years until she finally broke free. “I want people to understand that there’s no typical face of domestic violence—people think it’s a problem that only affects lower-income and minority groups,” she said. Another problem is that “people don’t talk about it. I see the impact it has on the women in URI’s shelters when I share my story with them. I wish there had been someone to talk to me that way.”
Jose, 21, often witnessed his mother being abused by his stepfather. “I was younger, so my mom would always tell me to not get involved, that it was her problem,” Jose said. When his mother left the relationship, he entered URI’s shelter with her. “As a child, you don’t want to see your mom going through that. Domestic violence is not something you want your child around at all.”
Ebony, 32, was in shelter at URI for six months. “I always looked at myself as a person who was strong,” she explained. “Then I met this one guy who took that all away from me. The worst moment was when my 14-year-old daughter walked into the room, because she heard her mother hollering and screaming. To hear her say, ‘Leave my mom alone’—that’s when I felt I had to leave.” Ebony is currently facing the challenge many domestic violence survivors experience in New York City—finding affordable housing upon leaving shelter.
Ashley, 22, was raised in a physically and emotionally abusive home, and fell victim to the cycle of violence when she wound up in an abusive relationship as an adult. “I thought this was the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with until the beating started,” she said. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always had to fight.”
Ana, 25, grew up in a home where her father abused her mother. “I thought that was what love looked like,” she admitted. “When I was in my first serious relationship as an adult, being abused emotionally, physically, and economically felt normal. It was all I knew.” Ana spent six months healing at one of URI’s domestic violence shelters. “My journey at URI has completely shifted my perspective, and I hope my story can be a lesson to others about the importance of making all relationships free of domestic violence.”
Muriel broke free of an abusive relationship and entered a URI shelter with her daughter in 2009 but was forced to separate with her dog, Jasmine, since shelters weren’t equipped to take in pets at the time. “There were nights where I just wished that I had my dog to comfort me when I was worried and feeling alone,” said Muriel of her shelter stay. “An animal is never going to be able to ask for help, but pets are often subjected to violence and physical abuse in order to manipulate the victim into acting the way the abuser wants them to.” In 2013, Muriel helped celebrate the launch of URI’s URIPALS—People and Animals Living Safely—New York City’s first-ever initiative to enable domestic violence survivors to enter shelter with their pets.
With awareness being critical to the campaign’s mission, URI is taking to social media to build momentum for the cause. Show your support for a #DVfree world on Facebook and Twitter. To learn more about URI’s “DV Free” Campaign, or for vital awareness and safety planning tips, visit www.urinyc.org/dvfree.
About Urban Resource Institute
Urban Resource Institute (URI) is a leading non-profit organization that provides comprehensive, holistic, and supportive human services programs that help individuals and families in the New York metropolitan area overcome obstacles and better their lives. With a rich 34-year legacy of social service research and expertise, deep community relationships, and a flexible, innovative approach to program development and service delivery, URI is uniquely equipped to provide solutions to the challenges affecting New York’s most vulnerable populations. URI’s hands-on programs for victims of domestic violence, the developmentally disabled, and people struggling with addiction and substance abuse are specifically tailored to meet the needs of the individual, while community outreach initiatives build wider visibility and support for the issues that have an impact on our clients’ quality of life and New York’s urban communities. For more information, please visit www.urinyc.org.
We are thrilled to share an important milestone for URI—six months after starting to accept dogs, and just over a year after launching URIPALS, we’re proud to announce that all 10 of our pet-friendly apartments are now home to domestic violence survivors and their pets. Currently, URI is housing 8 dogs and 5 cats, and has welcomed 22 cats, 13 dogs and 3 turtles since the URIPALS program began!
We are proud to lead the charge to protect domestic violence survivors and their beloved pets from abuse. URIPALS eliminates a critical barrier that many survivors face when fleeing an abusive situation: leaving their pets behind.
Help URIPALS Expand
With URIPALS now at capacity, the need to expand our co-sheltering program—the first and only one of its kind in NYC—is urgent. Through the continued support and generosity of our partners—the ASPCA, Purina, and the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC Animals—and additional support from the community and friends like you, we can expand URIPALS to our other shelters. Please make a donation today to help us achieve our goal to keep more families and their pets safe.
Urban Resource Institute, BBVA Team Up to Help Survivors of Domestic Violence Overcome Economic Abuse
Ribbon-cutting celebration marks the opening of a new computer lab to promote financial literacy and self-sufficiency for domestic violence survivors
BBVA New York donated 100 computers to URI for the computer lab, while the BBVA Compass Foundation donated $20,000
NEW YORK, July 8, 2014 — Urban Resource Institute (URI) and BBVA celebrated the opening today of a new computer lab at one of URI’s busiest domestic violence shelters, with the global financial services firm supporting URI’s pioneering effort to eradicate economic abuse, which affects 98 percent of domestic violence survivors.
BBVA New York donated 100 computers to the lab while the BBVA Compass Foundation, the charitable arm of BBVA’s U.S. franchise, gave a $20,000 gift. Both donations were announced today during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the lab, which is designed to be a safe and motivational space for survivors to gain job-training skills and other resources to establish their financial security.
“We’re in the business of building a better future for people — and there are few things more rewarding than lending your expertise and your resources to truly empower people,” said BBVA Compass Director of Corporate Responsibility and Reputation Reymundo Ocañas. “URI’s approach to combating domestic violence spoke to us and our spirit as innovators. It opened the first shelter in New York where victims could bring their pets, for instance, a very meaningful thing for people whose lives have been turned upside down. We knew we had something to contribute to URI’s holistic approach to the problem, and that’s the ability to zero in on the issue of economic abuse.”
BBVA Compass, through its partnership with leading education technology firm EverFi, also will bring the Web-based financial literacy program for adults, EverFi@Work, to URI.
“For many domestic violence victims, the damage wrought by economic abuse — which can result in ruined credit scores, identity or property theft, legal issues and erratic employment histories — can be overwhelming,” said Nathaniel Fields, president and CEO of URI. “We are grateful for BBVA’s collaboration in bringing attention to this often unaddressed and underreported issue, and hope to help our residents on their paths to establishing financially secure, independent and safe futures.”
Victims of abuse frequently face a double-edged sword — stay in, or return, to domestic violence situations, or leave and risk facing crippling financial insecurity. Seven out of eight women who go back to their abusers say they return because of financial pressures they face as a result of economic abuse.
“I experienced harassment from the abuser so many times at work that I lost my job and also lost my ability to be independent,” said one survivor who’s now participating in URI’s innovative Working Internship Network program, where shelter residents shadow URI employees through an eight-week internship. “Seeking shelter from domestic violence meant leaving everything behind. As I rebuild my life at URI, I realize now more than ever the importance of understanding my finances and gaining job skills that will help me get back on my feet.”
For tips on helping victims of economic abuse protect themselves, their families and their financial futures, please visit http://urinyc.org/domestic-violence/about-abuse/#economic.
About BBVA Group
BBVA Compass is a subsidiary of BBVA Compass Bancshares Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of BBVA (NYSE: BBVA) (MAD: BBVA). BBVA is a customer-centric global financial services group founded in 1857. The Group has a solid position in Spain, is the largest financial institution in Mexico and has leading franchises in South America and the Sunbelt region of the United States. Its diversified business is geared toward high-growth markets and relies on technology as a key sustainable competitive advantage. Corporate responsibility is at the core of its business model. BBVA fosters financial education and inclusion, and supports scientific research and culture. It operates with the highest integrity, a long-term vision and applies the best practices. The Group is present in the main sustainability indexes. More information about the BBVA Group can be found at www.bbva.com.
About BBVA Compass
BBVA Compass is a Sunbelt-based financial institution that operates 684 branches, including 352 in Texas, 89 in Alabama, 78 in Arizona, 62 in California, 45 in Florida, 38 in Colorado and 20 in New Mexico. BBVA Compass ranks among the top 25 largest U.S. commercial banks based on deposit market share and ranks among the largest banks in Alabama (2nd), Texas (4th) and Arizona (5th). BBVA Compass has been recognized as one of the leading small business lenders by the Small Business Administration and was recently awarded the 2013 Celent Model Bank Award for its new core banking platform. Additional information about BBVA Compass can be found at www.bbvacompass.com, by following @BBVACompassNews on Twitter or visiting newsroom.bbvacompass.com.
Editor’s Note: BBVA Compass is a trade name of Compass Bank, Member FDIC.
About Urban Resource Institute
Urban Resource Institute (URI) is a leading non-profit organization that provides comprehensive, holistic, and supportive human services programs that help individuals and families in the New York metropolitan area overcome obstacles and better their lives. With a rich 34-year legacy of social service research and expertise, deep community relationships, and a flexible, innovative approach to program development and service delivery, URI is uniquely equipped to provide solutions to the challenges affecting New York’s most vulnerable populations. URI’s hands-on programs for victims of domestic violence, the developmentally disabled, and people struggling with addiction and substance abuse are specifically tailored to meet the needs of the individual, while advocacy and community outreach initiatives build wider visibility and support for the issues that have an impact on our clients’ quality of life and New York’s urban communities. For more information, please visit www.urinyc.org.
Ann Michitsch joined URI in May as our first URIPALS coordinator. Based at Urban Women’s Safe Haven (UWSH) where the URIPALS program (People and Animals Living Safely) operates, Ann will be instrumental in coordinating the program as well as helping to expand it to other URI sites.
Ann has more than 20 years of wide-ranging experience in the field of social services, including counseling adolescents in crisis, addressing the multiple complex needs of older adults, and working on housing issues. An animal lover, Ann returned to school to study veterinary technology and has worked in several veterinary offices and pet stores and with many animal welfare organizations, establishing strong relationships with many of the community partners that we are actively working with as part of URIPALS.
“One of the qualifications of being the URIPALS coordinator is to be a bridge between the human welfare and the animal welfare communities. I feel all of my life’s work and education have been a testament to this,” Ann said. We are very pleased to have such a dedicated animal welfare and social service advocate as part of our team.
URI and New York City Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Team Up for Pet Safety Awareness Month
Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, Urban Resource Institute, Petland Discounts, and C-Town and Bravo Supermarkets Join in Campaign to Promote URIPALS, NYC’s First-Ever Initiative for Domestic Violence Victims with Pets
Citywide Outreach Effort for Pet Safety Month Encourages Domestic Violence Victims with Pets to Seek Help
NEW YORK, NY – The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV) today unveiled a campaign in support of Urban Resource Institute’s (URI) People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) initiative to shelter domestic violence victims with pets. Throughout May, in recognition of Pet Safety Awareness Month, the campaign will canvass New York City via retail outlets and grassroots distribution, with the goal of raising awareness about the innovative services now available to victims of abuse with pets. To support this campaign, Petland Discounts will place posters on the doors of its 70 stores in the New York area and C-Town and Bravo Supermarkets will include information in its weekly store circular across all five boroughs.
“This creative private-public partnership with the Urban Resource Institute, Petland Discounts, and C-Town and Bravo Supermarkets will help connect survivors with critical domestic violence services,” said Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Commissioner Rosemonde Pierre-Louis. “Survivors who flee an abusive home no longer need to leave their beloved pets behind. Now, the entire family can find safety and security together in a supportive domestic violence shelter.”
Studies show that as many as 48% of domestic violence victims stay in abusive situations out of fear of what would happen if they left their pets behind, and more than 70% of pet owners who enter shelter report that the abuser has threatened, injured, or killed family pets. URI is the only one of NYC’s 50 domestic violence shelters that accommodates pets, filling a critical gap by addressing the unique challenges families with pets face.
“Pets are part of people’s families, and no one should have to face the impossible decision to leave a pet behind in order to flee a violent relationship,” said Nathaniel Fields, President and CEO of URI. “With this campaign, OCDV is taking a bold step in spreading the word about URIPALS so that we can help more New Yorkers escape abuse and rebuild their lives as a family unit.”
Bringing together public, private, and non-profit leaders in the pet safety movement, this campaign is critical for increasing awareness about how the community can work together to ensure the well-being of the entire family in domestic violence situations.
“Petland Discounts is proud to partner with the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence in the effort to help inform the public that there are places for victims of domestic violence to go with their pets,” said Amy Eisenberg, Director, Public Relations & Special Events of Petland Discounts. “They are not alone and there is help for them.”
“C-Town and Bravo Supermarkets have been a part of local communities in the city for decades now,” said Mitch Klein, Vice President of Retail Services and Government Relations. “Each store is committed to their specific community to not only provide essential foods at competitive prices for the residents but to help and assist them on issues that are critical to their well being.”
OCDV staff and community partners will also hand out materials and information to hundreds of commuters in neighborhoods with a high incidence of domestic violence. These outreach efforts will promote the safety of families with pets, provide information about where to get help if someone is being abused including OCDV’s New York City Family Justice Centers, and encourage people to participate on social media with the hashtag #NYCendDV.
“My dogs are like my children, and I couldn’t imagine leaving them behind, even if it meant staying in an abusive relationship,” said one domestic violence survivor currently in URI’s shelter. “I was so relieved to find URIPALS and escape violence with my whole family. It’s such a comfort to have my pets with me as I begin the healing process and put my life back together.”
To learn more about URIPALS and for tips on keeping the entire family safe in domestic violence situations, please visit www.urinyc.org. For help from one of OCDV’s New York City Family Justice Centers, visit www.nyc.gov/domesticviolence or call the City’s Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-621-4673 or 311.
About the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence
Created in 2001, OCDV formulates policies and programs, monitors the citywide delivery of domestic violence services, and works with diverse communities to increase awareness of domestic violence and make it as easy as possible for victims and their children to get the help that they need regardless of the language they speak or their immigration status. OCDV operates the New York City Family Justice Centers, a private-public initiative that comprehensive civil legal, counseling and supportive services for victims of domestic violence, elder abuse, and sex trafficking. The FJCs are safe, caring environments that provide one-stop services and support by co-locating key City agencies, community, social and civil legal service providers, and District Attorney’s Offices. For more information, please visit www.nyc.gov/domesticviolence.
About Urban Resource Institute
Urban Resource Institute (URI) provides comprehensive, holistic, and supportive social services programs that help individuals and families in the New York metropolitan area overcome obstacles and better their lives. With a rich 32-year legacy, deep community relationships, and a flexible, innovative approach to program development and service delivery, URI is uniquely equipped to provide solutions to the challenges affecting victims of domestic violence, the developmentally disabled, and people struggling with addiction and substance abuse. In June 2013, URI launched New York City’s first initiative to allow victims of domestic violence to enter shelter with their pets called URIPALS—People and Animals Living Safely. For more information, please visit www.urinyc.org.
Urban Resource Institute and Purina Unveil the Purina Play Haven, NYC’s First-Ever Dog Park in a Domestic Violence Shelter
Ribbon-cutting celebration marks the official expansion of URIPALS—URI’s initiative to shelter people and pets together
NEW YORK, New York – March 18, 2014 – Urban Resource Institute (URI) and Nestlé Purina PetCare (Purina) today hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate New York City’s first-ever dog park in a domestic violence shelter, called the Purina Play Haven and Dog Park. The event marks the official expansion of URIPALS—People and Animals Living Safely—which launched in June 2013 as a pilot program to enable domestic violence survivors to enter shelter with their cats and other small animals. With the opening of the Purina Play Haven and Dog Park, URI will now be able to open its doors to families with dogs.
Sponsored by Purina, which contributed funds for the design and construction of the dog park, the Purina Play Haven and Dog Park will give families at URI’s largest emergency shelter in New York City a safe and calming retreat in which to heal together. The unique dog park features a ramp, tunnel, bridge and platform for dogs to play and exercise, as well as overhead trellises to ensure the privacy and security of shelter residents.
“At Purina we share the belief that when pets and people are together, life is truly better,” said Lindsey Hogan, brand manager for the Purina brand. “We’re very proud to support the Urban Resource Institute and its PALS program, which is helping to keep families and pets together during difficult times.”
URI and Purina’s collaboration in support of URIPALS brings together one of New York City’s largest domestic violence service providers and a leader in the pet care industry around the closely linked issues of animal abuse and domestic violence. United by the belief that people and pets are better together, URI and Purina are helping reduce barriers to safety for families with pets in domestic violence situations, and hope to continue raising awareness about the impact of abuse on the whole family—including pets.
“Since launching URIPALS, we’ve seen how transformative it is for families in domestic violence situations to go through the healing process together with their pets,” said Nathaniel Fields, President of URI. “As we open our doors to families with dogs and celebrate this critical milestone for URIPALS, we hope to continue the momentum and inspire other organizations in major cities nationwide that this initiative is possible. We are grateful to Purina for helping URI make this dog park a reality, and for their shared commitment to keeping people and pets together, especially in times of crisis.”
Studies show that as many as 48% of domestic violence victims stay in abusive situations out of fear of what would happen if they left their pets behind, and more than 70% of pet owners who enter shelter report that the abuser has threatened, injured, or killed family pets[i]. Among New York City’s 50 domestic violence shelters, URI is the only one that accommodates pets, filling a critical gap by addressing the unique challenges families with pets face.
“When my children and I found out that we could bring our dog, Sparky, with us into shelter, we were overjoyed,” said one domestic violence survivor currently in URI’s shelter. “Sparky had always been there with us to comfort and even protect us from the abuse, and having him there with us as we work to put our lives back together makes our recovery process so much better. I’m so grateful to Purina and URI for helping me and other families with pets stay together.”
The event also convened elected officials and experts and leaders in the domestic violence and animal welfare communities to discuss the importance of this critical initiative.
“I applaud URI, Purina, and GEPPAUL ARCHITECTS for their unique and innovative collaboration to create the City’s first-ever dog park in a domestic violence shelter and for appreciating that a pet is more than just an animal in your home,” said Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Commissioner Rose Pierre-Louis. “So many survivors face the unimaginable choice of having to leave a beloved pet behind in order to flee an abusive relationship. With this new program, the entire family can find safety and security together in a supportive domestic violence shelter.”“We have been supportive of the URIPALS program and are pleased about the addition of the new dog park to the URIPALS domestic violence shelter, which we anticipate will further reduce the barriers domestic violence survivors might face to seeking safety and services,” said HRA’s Office of Emergency and Intervention Services Executive Deputy Commissioner Cecile Noel. “As providers of emergency shelter and other vital services to victims of abuse and their children we know quite well that those who fear for their own safety are often worried about leaving their pet family member to escape abuse, unless there’s an opportunity to preserve the pet’s welfare. With initiatives like this we are establishing effective models for domestic violence and animal protection programs not only in New York City but across the state and nation.”
The Purina Play Haven and Dog Park was designed by Gerard P. Paul, Principal, GEPPAUL ARCHITECTS. “We’re pleased to have worked with URI and Purina in the creation of a space that supports this important initiative,” said Paul. “We saw the potential to give new meaning to this former alleyway, and it is gratifying to have transformed it into a space that will tremendously benefit the community. We wanted to do everything we could to make sure that the pets and people in URI’s shelter have a safe and truly enjoyable outdoor area to spend quality time together.”
As part of its sponsorship of URIPALS, in October 2013 Purina also donated much-needed welcome kits tailored to cats —with food, toys, crates and other pet supplies—and educational materials designed to guide families entering URI’s largest domestic violence shelter in best practices for caring for their pets.
To learn more about URIPALS and for tips on keeping the entire family safe in domestic violence situations, please visit www.urinyc.org.
“Do-Gooders” Visit URI Domestic Violence Survivors
We are so grateful to Shari Arison, philanthropist and author of Activate Your Goodness, Rose Pierre Louis, Commissioner of the Office to Combat Domestic Violence, Finn Partners, and the many volunteers who celebrated Good Deeds Day with URI and our clients on March 5. Shari, the founder of the international Good Deeds Day movement, inspired our clients and staff by sharing her personal story of domestic violence and her desire to make the world a better place by encouraging good deeds every day.
Participants gathered for the kickoff at Times Square in Manhattan and boarded a Good Deeds Day bus to visit a variety of nonprofits throughout the city. The route included URI’s domestic violence program, where volunteers presented flowers to our clients to show them that they are not alone.
ASPCA and Urban Resource Institute Announce Partnership in Support of URIPALS, NYC’s First-Ever Program to House Domestic Violence Victims with Their Pets
With $75,000 grant, the ASPCA helps URI address the critical connection between domestic violence and pet abuse
The ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) and Urban Resource Institute (URI) today announced their collaboration in support of URI’s PALS (People and Animals Living Safely) program, New York City’s first-ever initiative to shelter domestic violence victims with their pets. The ASPCA provided URI a $75,000 grant to fund a position that ensures both clients and pets residing in URI’s largest emergency shelter receive the support and services they need to heal and move forward with their lives.
URI launched URIPALS in June 2013 as a pilot program, modifying apartments at its largest emergency domestic violence shelter to accommodate families together with their pets. To date, the program has housed more than a dozen cats and other small animals, and is expanding the pilot program to accept dogs.
“We’re honored to participate in an innovative program that provides safe shelter for both domestic violence victims and their pets,” said Matthew Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA. “This program keeps people and pets together during times of crisis, protects them both, and preserves the special bond with a companion animal who is often a major source of comfort and stability in an otherwise chaotic life. By allowing survivors to be with their pets during this critical time, it facilitates the healing process as they move forward with their lives. We’d love to see it expand to other emergency shelters throughout the city and nationwide.”
This unique collaboration between the animal welfare community and domestic violence field will spotlight the critical connection between the welfare of people and pets in domestic violence situations. In fact, studies estimate that as many as 48 percent 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 percent of pet owning women entering domestic violence shelters report that the abuser has threatened, harmed or killed a family pet. This underscores the importance of having programs for victims of domestic violence that take their pets into account when opening doors to safety.
“There are so many layers in domestic violence situations, and every member of the family is affected—including pets, who are often targeted as a way to threaten or control victims—which is why we are so grateful for the ASPCA’s partnership in helping people and pets escape violence together,” said Nathaniel Fields, President of URI. “With this grant and ASPCA’s support of URIPALS, we will be able to continue the program so that families never have to make the impossible decision of leaving their pets behind in abusive situations.”
“When I was in the abusive relationship, my two cats were constantly threatened and injured,” explained one survivor currently in shelter at URI. “I knew I had to get out of the situation, but just couldn’t leave them behind—our pets are part of my family and my son is so attached to them. Because of the URIPALS program, I was able to enter shelter with my cats and seek safety for my entire family. This is truly a life-saving program and I hope others will have the same opportunity as I did.”
In addition to the grant, the ASPCA will offer assistance via its Animal Hospital by providing services including medical exams, vaccinations, behavioral support, spay and 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.
URI currently operates four shelters in New York City, housing approximately 1,500 adults and children per year. For more information about URI’s domestic violence services, tips to keep the whole family safe, or to support the organization, please visit www.urinyc.org.