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Stay Together. Heal Together.

PALS: A decade of safety and healing for people and pets

In 2013 URI took bold action and launched the pioneering People and Animals Living Safely program, creating safe shelter and support that allows domestic violence survivors and their pets to live and heal together.

Before PALS, pets were a barrier to seeking safety because domestic violence shelters did not accommodate pets. Do individuals and families leave the pet behind and in danger? Surrender it to a rescue organization and hope for the best? Stay in the home together and face the abuse? Thanks to the PALS program, survivors with pets no longer have to make these difficult choices.

PALS also supports the human-animal bond as a powerful source of healing. Support of a beloved pet aids in overcoming shared trauma while, in contrast, being forced to abandon or surrender a pet adds another layer of pain and loss.

With PALS, domestic violence survivors and their pets stay together and heal together. See the story of one family’s experience in the powerful short film “When I Close My Eyes.”

Produced by Rising Act Films, Director: Daniel Stine, Associate Director: Kaitlin Scott

URI PALS team members Danielle Emery and Colleen Parker partnered with the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness (ICPH) to deliver a free webinar on "Creating a Community of Care: Co-Sheltering Families and Their Pets” to share PALS experience and expertise with shelter service providers, advocates, funders, and others working to integrate pets into their services and maintain the human-animal bond in times of trauma. View the entire webinar here:

Staff of URI People and Animals Living Safely program help survivors of domestic violence and their pets in their journey to healing and safety. Listen to our PALS Supervisor, Lina, on honoring the human-animal bond to ensure survivors and their beloved pets thrive together.

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.

PALS Report and Survey

PALS Report Cover

Learn More and Download

Did You Know?

50%

of survivors would not consider shelter for themselves if they could not take their pets

91%

of survivors indicated that their pets’ emotional support and physical protection are significant in their ability to survive and heal

<10%

of domestic violence shelters provide some accommodations for survivors' pets

PALS by the Numbers:

370+

families have found shelter through the PALS program.

500+

pets have been accommodated.

242

pet-ready apartments are available at nine shelter locations

URI in the News

AKC Magazine Safe Together

People & Animals Living Safely

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

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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?

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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.

$25

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

$50

can provide special food for a dog with allergies

$75

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

$100

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

$150

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

To Date We’ve Sheltered

Cat Icon

Cats

Dog Icon

Dogs

Turtle Icon

Turtles

Rabbit Icon

Rabbit

Fish Icon

Fish

Bird Icon

Birds

Guinea Pig Icon

Guinea Pigs

Hamster Icon

Hamsters

Bearded Dragon Icon

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