URI’s Urban Women’s Retreat emergency shelter to include 12 pet-friendly apartments

(New York, August 17, 2015)Urban Resource Institute (URI) today announced the expansion of URIPALS (People and Animals Living Safely), New York City’s only program that enables domestic violence survivors and their pets to reside together in shelter. The URIPALS program is now available at Urban Women’s Retreat (UWR), an emergency shelter located in Harlem. The expansion will run an initial six-month pilot at UWR, housing domestic violence survivors together with their pets, including cats and dogs, in 12 pet-friendly apartments. URI is partnering with a number of organizations, including the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals and the ASPCA, to expand URIPALS to UWR.

“There is a tremendous need for domestic violence shelters to open their doors to pets, both nationally and right here in NYC,” said Nathaniel Fields, president and CEO of URI. “As members of the family, pets provide stability and comfort to survivors during the difficult transitional period, facilitating the healing process and helping them to move forward with their lives. The expansion of URIPALS to UWR brings us one step closer to our goal of implementing the program across all four of URI’s domestic violence shelters.”

URI launched URIPALS in June 2013 in response to the overwhelming need among domestic violence victims and their families for shelters that would accept pets. Since launching at URI’s Safe Haven shelter in Brooklyn, NY, URI has assisted 39 families and 59 pets, including 36 cats, 16 dogs, 6 turtles and 1 fish,  escape domestic violence, heal and rebuild their lives. 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 71 percent of pet owning women entering domestic violence shelters report that the abuser has threatened, harmed or killed a family pet.

The expansion of URIPALS to UWR will not only provide families with the opportunity to bring their pets with them when entering the shelter, but will also provide a range of services for the pets including medical exams, vaccinations, behavioral support, spay and neuter surgery, and fostering.

“We are delighted with URI’s commitment to expand its co-sheltering capacity for families with pets experiencing domestic violence in New York City, and we are proud to support their efforts,” said Jane Hoffman, President of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals. “The URIPALS program allows pet owners access to emergency shelter without having to give up their beloved animals. In this way, it ensures a new standard of support in New York City for domestic violence survivors.”

“The ASPCA commends URI’s expansion of this innovative program that is keeping animals and their owners together during times of crisis,” said Allison Cardona, senior director of the ASPCA’s Cruelty Intervention Advocacy program. “We encourage shelters in New York City and across the country to implement similar programs that help save and protect the lives of both pets and people.”

URI’s four domestic violence shelters in New York City served close to 1000 clients, including 348 adults and 632 children, in 2014. 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.

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 35-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.

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