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A safe, secure place for domestic violence victims and their pets to heal together.

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PALS: An Innovative Program that Protects People and Pets

When domestic violence victims decide to leave abusive situations, they face many difficult choices. For victims with pets, it can be even more agonizing if there are no options for pets.

Do they flee with their children and leave their pet behind? Do they place their pet with a rescue organization and hope for the best? Do they stay and try to keep their family intact despite abuse? Or is there a better way?

Very few shelters accept domestic violence victims with pets. That’s why the PALS (People and Animals Living Safely) program can mean the difference between staying in an abusive situation and finding safety for the entire family. PALS removes barriers to entry by providing accommodations for co-living with pets of any species.

Since PALS was launched in 2013, URI has continued to expand and refine the program to provide the best possible services for people and pets. This encompasses the creation of pet parks, including inspirational murals to brighten the space. Watch the creation of one such mural at our Harmony House shelter.

Did You Know?


of U.S. households own a pet


of survivors won't leave an abusive relationship because they can’t take their pet


of domestic violence shelters provide co-sheltering for survivors and their pets

Here at URI:


families and 350 pets have been sheltered to date


pet-ready apartments at 7 shelter locations

Pets are family members, too

The human-animal bond is important to well-being, especially in times of distress. For victims, their pet may be their only source of comfort and support. But abuse affects more than people: pets experience domestic violence in ways similar to people. In many cases, pets are used as leverage to further threaten, harm or control victims. In some cases, pets may try to intervene, leading them to become a direct target of an abuser.

PALS Pet Family Graphic

We allow the whole family to heal together

PALS offers pet-ready apartments and services across New York City in three boroughs that allow families and pets to live and heal together in the same secure space. Our aim is to break the cycle of violence and foster independence and hope.

Victims are provided a full range of wellness services:

  • Safety
  • Case Management
  • Counseling
  • Specialized pet care
  • Veterinarians and animal behavioral specialists
  • Economic empowerment
  • Childcare services
  • Educational enhancement
  • Nutrition
  • Academic support for adults and kids
  • Financial literacy

Domestic Violence Survivor Holds a Cat with a White Background

Safety Tips for Pets

Know the signs and develop a safety plan

Victims of domestic violence are often subjected to multiple types of abuse over significant periods of time which is designed to erode self-esteem and maintain power and control over them. For some, it can take several attempts to leave. Whether you are ready or able to escape an abusive situation, you may find it useful to develop a safety plan for yourself and your entire family - including any children and pets. As you develop your plan, consider the following safety tips:

Supplies. Set aside supplies, pack an emergency bag and keep it hidden, but easily accessible. Make sure to include necessary food, medication, and records for pets.

Animal ownership documents. Accumulate registration records, vet records, a microchip, and/or a current photo to prove ownership of your pets in a safe place.

Friends and family. Find a friend or family member to help care for your pet in case of a sudden emergency. They are an important part of your overall pet-care plan.

Explore options. Look into resources in your community for assistance with your pets. Look for a local co-sheltering program or animal welfare organization that can provide services. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has a list of resources here.

Compensation for Victims of Domestic Violence

By definition, all domestic violence victims are crime victims and many need financial assistance to recover collateral destroyed by abusers. New York State’s Crime Victims Board provides compensation to victims for losses they incurred as a result of a crime. The New York State Office of Victim Services (OVS) offers compensation for victims of crime, including domestic violence. Visit their Services page to learn more and apply.

Download the Crime Victims Benefit Application here.

URI serves all survivors of domestic violence, intimate partner violence and gender-based violence regardless of race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local laws.

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How To Help PALS

Get Involved

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    PALS relies on financial support from donors like you to help families in crisis. Won’t you invest in this one-of-a-kind program?


    Your Donation

    Your donation ensures that individuals, families and their pets can escape abuse, safely heal and gain the resources needed to rebuild their lives.


    can provide vitamins and supplements for a cat that’s healing from abuse


    can provide special food for a dog with allergies


    can provide behavior assessment and training for a dog suffering from trauma


    can provide a wellness exam and vaccinations for a pet entering shelter


    can provide a habitat and supplies for a reptile pet

    Thank you to our funders and supporters

    The Margaret Whitton Charitable Trust

    Bruce G. Geary Foundation

    A Kinder World Foundation

    Norma Green Foundation

    Cat Icon

    89 Cats

    Dog Icon

    70 Dogs

    Turtle Icon

    10 Turtles

    Rabbit Icon

    1 Rabbit

    Fish Icon

    4 Fish

    To Date We’ve Sheltered

    Bird Icon

    4 Birds

    Guinea Pig Icon

    2 Guinea Pigs

    Hamster Icon

    2 Hamsters

    Bearded Dragon Icon

    1 Bearded Dragons

    In Their Own Words

    Being in the PALS program, I was given the tools and the time needed. If you just go from one desperate situation to the next desperate situation you keep repeating the cycle, and here I was given a safe space.

    PALS resident