Often overlooked, pets also fall victim to domestic violence. Trauma doesn’t discriminate against species as pets experience domestic violence in similar ways to people. Pets may witness abuse or even experience it. They may also be used as leverage, and in some cases may intervene, which further leads them to become a direct target.
More than 75% of pet owners believe pets are part of the family and refuse to leave them behind when fleeing emergency situations, including domestic violence.
People who experience domestic violence are faced with a difficult decision: Leaving their pet behind while seeking refuge in shelter. Urban Resource Institute firmly believes that pets are part of the family and families should never be faced with this difficult decision.
Five years ago we created a first-of-its-kind program to protect families by providing safe, co-living spaces to keep people and animals together.
People and Animals Living Safely (PALS), a program established by URI in 2013, provides co-living domestic violence shelters where families can bring their pets and live in the same space as they heal. The goal of our PALS program is to bring joy and comfort to children, individuals, and families seeking refuge at URI shelters.
Far too often, domestic violence perpetrators use beloved pets as leverage to further threaten, harm, and control their victims. Yet very few domestic violence shelters in the U.S. provide co-living options for survivors and their pets, forcing individuals to make the nearly impossible choice of abandoning their pets or remaining in an unsafe environment and risking further abuse.
We currently offer 52 units of domestic violence shelters across four residences that allow families and their pets to live and heal together in the same apartment. This will soon be 72 units across five residences.
To date, we have welcomed more than 100 pets into the refuge of their shelter. Here’s a closer look at our numbers.
Individual actions can go a long way when acted upon together. There are actions you can take to join our movement for pets.
Donate to the PALS Program
Inform yourself: Be aware of the Safety Planning tips, share then with a friend or family member
Take a stand with Urban Resource Institute and Purina on social media using the hashtags #ProtectPetsToo and #PALSxPurina.
PALS Place is the first domestic violence shelter in the nation in which every apartment unit is made for co-living, or sheltering pets alongside their families in the same apartment unit. Closeness with pets is so critical to healing. PALS Place is not only accommodating of pets, but was conceived and designed with the welfare of pets in mind based on guidance provided by Purina animal behaviorists.
Just as there are best practices for helping humans recover from abuse, there are also specific ways to facilitate a faster, fuller recovery for pets that have experienced trauma. Studies show that the presence of pets is important for the well-being of humans under stress and can promote healing. Additionally, there are ways to promote the wellbeing of pets after experiencing abuse that help minimize fear, aggression, anxiety, and PTSD.
Purina and URI share a belief that pets and people are better together, and that by providing survivors with the option of bringing their pets into domestic violence shelters, the environment becomes even more conducive to mutual healing. Since 2013, Purina has generously provided welcome kits for pets entering the PALS program, which include pet food, treats, and supplies such as crates, beds, water bowls, collars, leashes, toys, cat litter, and litter boxes. URI and Purina are also dedicated to strengthening the human-pet bond on a national scale by creating a model and resource-based tool kit for other domestic violence shelter providers interested in making their own facilities pet-inclusive.
Pet-care plan: Identify in advance friends or family members who can help care for your pet(s).
Animal ownership documents: Keep registration records, vet records, a microchip, and/or a current photo to prove ownership of your pets.
Legal protection: Include pets on orders of protection. Give a copy of any legal documents to a trusted friend or family member.
Safety supplies: Pack an emergency bag and keep it hidden, but easily accessible. Make sure to include food, supplies, and records for pets in the emergency bag.