Cats Now Welcome at Some Domestic Abuse Shelters

New York City’s URIPALS helps keep pets and people safe.

In an act of philanthropy, the Urban Resource Institute (URI) of New York City and Nestlé Purina are partnering in support of URIPALS – New York City’s first initiative to allow victims of domestic violence to enter shelters with their pets. With only 3% of the shelters in the United States able to accommodate pets, New York City is leading the way in helping families to seek safety and stay together.  

“With as many as 48% of domestic violence victims staying in abusive situations for fear of what would happen if they left their pets behind, URI launched URIPALS on Jun. 1 to respond to a critical need for victims and their families,” explains Jennifer White-Reid, vice president of Domestic Violence Programs at URI.  

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“Using its 32 years of experience providing social services for New Yorkers in need, URI partnered with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals to equip its largest emergency domestic violence shelter to house families and small animals together.”

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The Purina Company heard about the new program, and contacted URI to get involved. They are providing each family that comes into the shelter with a pet a kit that includes food, toys, a crate and other essentials. Then, when the families leave the shelter, Purina will give them a year supply of food and kitty litter (if they have a cat).

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“We are proud to support URI in its mission to provide comfort to victims of domestic abuse and their pets,” says Michael Kotick, senior brand manager at Purina. “We believe people and pets are better together, and the strong bond between pet owners and their pets can prove to be beneficial no matter what the circumstances.”

In its sixth month, the program has already welcomed 12 cats the shelter, with plans to start accepting dogs soon. “By allowing people to bring pets with them, we’re easing the healing process and increasing their hope for moving their lives forward” White-Reid says. “One family recently entered a shelter without their pet but, fortunately, we were able to rescue the cat and bring it into shelter. When we reunited the family with their cat, the two little girls’ faces lit up. It was like they were welcoming a sibling back home. You could really see that the cat was a member of the family.”

Click here for more information about states with co-sheltering programs. Click here to donate to the URIPALS program.

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