Escaping Domestic Violence as a Pet Owner
Explore Insights from Survivors and Recommendations from PALS.
A safe, secure place for domestic violence victims and their pets to heal together.
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.
Thanks to the PALS program, survivors do not have to choose between remaining in an abusive situation or abandoning their pets. PALS offers a new life of safety and healing for people together with their pets. This powerful short film “When I Close My Eyes” brings to life one family's experience from the trauma of domestic violence into the PALS program and a joyous and promising future.
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.
of survivors would not consider shelter for themselves if they could not take their pets
of survivors indicated that their pets’ emotional support and physical protection are significant in their ability to survive and heal
of domestic violence shelters provide some accommodations for survivors' pets
families have found shelter through the PALS program.
pets have been accommodated.
pet-ready apartments are available at nine shelter locations
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 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.
Introduced in 2019, PALS Place is the first domestic violence shelter in the nation and the only co-living shelter in New York City in which every apartment unit has been designed to shelter pets alongside their families in the same safe, secure space.
Imagine a safe place for pets to heal along with their owners.
Private and secure pet parks let pets exercise and play.
Co-living for people and pets is offered at PALS shelters.
We provide a safe place for survivors and their pets to heal together.
Pets can run and play to their hearts’ content.
Co-living residences fully equipped for pets
Beautiful, fully outfitted co-living apartments throughout New York City.
Fun common areas for kids to learn, play and grow.
PALS client finds safety and healing with her cat.
PALS provides healing spaces for survivors, their children and pets to enjoy.
PALS co-living model eliminates the trauma of having to leave pets behind.
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.
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.
Sign up to receive news and updates from Urban Resource Institute.
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 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
The Margaret Whitton Charitable Trust
Bruce G. Geary Foundation
A Kinder World Foundation
Norma Green Foundation
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