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URIPALS Now Accepts Dogs

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.


Photo by Jordan H. Star

“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.”


Photo by Jordan H. Star

“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


URI Teams Up with ASPCA

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.

ASPCA logo high-res“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

Happy New Year from URI!

Support from Avon and BBVA Helps to Make the Season Bright for URI Shelter Residents

gifts2This has been a year of extraordinary accomplishments at URI! Our clients, staff members, URI supporters, and others demonstrate the importance of what we do at URI—keeping people safe, secure, and empowered to lead better lives. We would like to express our special thanks to Avon and their group, Avon Women Empowered (AWE) for the generous donation of gifts (pictured) that brought holiday cheer to URI’s domestic violence shelter residents and their children and pets at Safe Haven.

We extend our warmest gratitude to the BBVA Compass Foundation’s Project Blue Elf, which funded holiday activities and toys that benefit children living at URI Urban Women’s New Beginnings (UWNB) domestic violence shelter.

This spirit of giving exemplifies the true meaning of the holiday season!

Volunteers from the Avon Women Empowered (AWE) group collected and wrapped the more than 50 toys donated by Avon Associates and members of the leadership team and executive committee. Avon’s Community Engagement group also gathered pet toys and supplies and gave $2,000 (raised from a self-defense class and jewelry sale) to the URIPALS program and to fund a holiday party for shelter residents. BBVA’s Project Blue Elf initiative is funding UWNB’s holiday party, which will include the donation of toys for 60 children and kid-friendly activities such as cookie decorating and ornament making.

We continue to expand our programs and services to ensure that we are doing all we can to help the many individuals and families throughout New York who rely on us. In turn, we rely on you for support that enables us to continue our critical work. We appreciate donations of any amount. All of us at URI wish you and your loved ones a happy, healthy New Year!


Art as a Tool for Healing from Abuse

A Therapeutic Outlet for Shelter Residents

In an art therapy program offered at URI’s Safe Haven domestic violence shelter, residents created t-shirts with powerful messages that express their feelings about the abuse they experienced. This therapeutic outlet is one of the many ways we help our residents recover from domestic violence. SEE MORE T-SHIRTS >


URI President Nathaniel Fields Pens NY Daily News Op-Ed

DailyNews_thumbnailDomestic violence is the leading cause of murders of women in New York City—in 2012, 2 out of every 3 female homicides resulted from an instance of domestic abuse.

Yet we often turn a blind eye to the violence next door, and rarely discuss this life-or-death issue with friends and loved ones. But domestic abuse is not a private matter; it’s a crime, and we must start making it our business. To truly combat the rising numbers of women murdered as a result of domestic violence, we call on the community—from the criminal justice system to social service providers to the general public—to work together and coordinate our efforts against this threat.

Read about the concrete steps URI proposes here in the Daily News.

URI Provides Domestic Violence Assistance at New Family Justice Center

mother and daughters croppedURI will partner with the NYC Mayor’s Office, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and other civil legal and community-based organizations to provide safe, supportive services to domestic violence victims at a new NYC Family Justice Center (FJC) opening in January 2014 in downtown Manhattan at 80 Centre Street. FJCs are an initiative of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence to reduce barriers faced by domestic violence victims who are seeking help.

FJCs are comprehensive “one-stop-shop” centers where multiple agencies come together under one roof to provide consolidated and coordinated legal, social, and health services to women, men, children, and families in need.  Victims of domestic violence can come to one location to talk to an advocate, get a restraining order, plan for their safety, talk to a police officer, meet with a prosecutor, receive medical assistance, and receive information about shelter.

URI staff will work on-site at the Manhattan FJC one day a week and will provide clients with crisis intervention, safety assessments, advocacy, shelter placement, referrals, and assistance related to pets.

Purina Supports PALS

A3_CSB_CMYK_4_RedURI is proud to team up with Purina in support of URIPALS (URI People and Animals Living Safely). United by the belief that people and pets are better together, URI and Purina hope to raise awareness about the impact of abuse on the entire family—including pets—and reduce barriers to escape and recovery.

Thanks to Purina’s generous donation of cat welcome kits and educational materials to URIPALS—which is currently accepting cats and small animals during its six-month pilot phase—domestic violence survivors in New York City will now have important resources to help them recover safely with their pets in the shelter.


Urban Resource Institute and Purina Announce Collaboration In Support of URIPALS—People and Animals Living Safely

Purina to provide welcome kits to residents with cats in URI’s domestic violence shelters

CatSelect_webNEW YORK, New York – October 21, 2013 – In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Urban Resource Institute and Nestlé Purina announced today that they are teaming up in support of URIPALS—New York City’s first initiative to allow victims of domestic violence to enter shelters with their pets. Beginning today, Purina will donate much-needed welcome kits and educational materials for families entering URI’s largest domestic violence shelter.

This marks an important collaboration between one of New York City’s largest domestic violence service providers and a leader in the pet care community. By working together, URI and Purina hope to raise awareness about the impact of abuse on the whole family—including pets—and reduce barriers to escape and recovery.

“When victims of domestic violence flee abusive situations, they are often forced to uproot their entire lives, leaving behind key belongings and supplies,” said Nathaniel Fields, President of URI. “Our goal at the Urban Resource Institute is to provide survivors—including pets—with the resources and services they need to rebuild stable, secure lives. We are grateful for Purina’s support of URIPALS, which will provide critical supplies to ensure that families entering shelter with their pets have the resources they need to recover together after escaping abuse.”

“We are proud to support the Urban Resource Institute in its mission to provide comfort to victims of domestic abuse and their pets,” said Michael Kotick, senior brand manager, Purina. “At Purina we believe people and pets are better together, and the strong bond between pet owners and their pets can prove to be beneficial no matter what the circumstances.”

Currently in its six-month pilot phase, URIPALS is accepting families with cats and smaller animals into its shelter, and hopes to expand the program to include dogs this December. As such, Purina’s welcome kits during this phase of the program will be tailored to cats, including items such as food, toys, crates, and other accessories. Purina is also donating a year’s supply of food and litter to families upon leaving the shelter. In addition to these welcome kits, families will receive educational materials designed to guide them in best practices for caring for their pets.

_MG_3254_web“Years ago, when I realized my daughter, two pets and I would have to leave our abusive situation or we might not make it out alive, everything happened so quickly,” said Muriel Raggi, a survivor of domestic violence. “I didn’t even have time to think, let alone pack the things my pets and I would need. I am confident that through Purina’s program with URI, survivors and their pets can get the support they need to move forward together.”

To learn more about URIPALS and for tips on keeping the entire family safe in domestic violence situations, please visit

About Urban Resource Institute

Urban Resource Institute (URI) is a 501(c)(3) 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 32-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. In June 2013, URI launched a pilot program called URIPALS-People and Animals Living Safely. It is the first initiative in New York City to allow victims of domestic violence to enter shelter with their pets. For more information, please visit

About Nestlé Purina

Nestlé Purina PetCare Company is a global leader in the pet care industry and promotes responsible pet care, humane education, community involvement and the positive bond between people and their pets. The North American headquarters for Nestlé Purina is located at Checkerboard Square in St. Louis, Missouri. Nestlé Purina is part of Swiss-based Nestlé, the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company.

Press Contacts:

Urban Resource Institute: Keren Ritchie, 212-784-5713,
Purina: Bill Etling, 314-982-4825,

October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Every day, URI provides 360 service and support to domestic violence victims throughout the New York area. And every October, we join advocates across the nation in a special effort to increase awareness of the devastating consequences of domestic violence and the steps we can all take to prevent abuse. FIND OUT MORE

Career Opportunities

URI is hiring! We are currently looking to fill two positions: Program Director at one of our domestic violence shelters and Vice President of Operations with senior management and operations experience. Full job descriptions.


milestonesThis has been a year of many changes, and URI is thrilled to celebrate new milestones and additions to our team. (We’re also looking to fill two key job openings—Find out more)

URI’s Working Internship Network celebrated its 15-year anniversary in September, holding a graduation ceremony for its 15 residents for the first time in the program’s history.

We are pleased to welcome Jae Young Kim, the new attorney for URI’s Domestic Violence Legal Education and Advocacy Program (LEAP). Since graduating from New York University in 2003, Ms. Kim has worked to provide legal services and protection for victims of domestic violence across NYC.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to Dr. Lorraine Madry for her 35 years of dedicated service to URI, as she recently retired from her role as Senior Program Director at Urban Women’s Retreat. Her leadership, compassion, and commitment to improving the lives of domestic violence victims have been an inspiration to us all, and she will be sorely missed.