The Urban Resource Institute (URI) is the first non-profit in New York City to let domestic violence survivors bring their pets into shelter with them. Not wanting to leave a pet behind in a dangerous situation can be one of the reasons people don't leave abusive relationships — so this is a big deal.
Today, national data show that more than 40% of domestic violence victims stay in abusive situations out of fear of what would happen if they left their pets behind. Plus, more than 70% of pet owners who enter shelter report that the abuser has threatened, injured or killed family pets.(*) Yet in New York City—the largest provider of domestic violence services in the country with more than 50 shelters—not one shelter currently allows pets in residence, until now.
Well, those are some intense and heartbreaking statistics.
Although there are already shelters across the United States that allow pets, this is NYC's first. The program kicked off on June 1st with ten apartments where small animals such as cats, hamsters, and fish are allowed. In six months, they plan to expand to three more shelters, and to allow dogs. First, they want to build dog runs so women who don't feel safe going into the public have a way to exercise their pooches.
“Sometimes victims of domestic violence when they come into shelter, women don’t feel like they want to go out immediately so if they have a pet we want to have options available to be able to walk the pet within the shelter environment,” said URI President, Nathaniel Fields.