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New York Offers First Co-Sheltering Program

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Urban Resource Institute launched New York City’s first ever co-sheltering program for domestic violence victims with pets, called PALS – People and Animals Living Safely.

Using its 32 years of experience providing social services for New Yorkers in need, URI launched PALS as a 6 month pilot in partnership with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, to equip its largest emergency domestic violence shelter to house families and small animals together.

“There has never been a more important time for the domestic violence shelter community to open its doors to pets,” Nathaniel Fields, president of URI, said. “As we witnessed during Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, pets are members of the family and no one should have to make the impossible decision to leave them behind during times of crisis.”

Today, national data show that more than 40 percent 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 percent of pet owners who enter shelters 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.

“The Alliance has assisted in hundreds of crisis cases—many involving domestic violence—over the past six years,” Jane Hoffman, Alliance president, said. “We are extremely pleased that with our new URI partnership, families in domestic violence situations will be sheltered safely with their pets and away from the abusers, in keeping with our goal to help people and pets remain together during times of crisis.”

During its 6 month pilot phase, URI PALS will accept cats and smaller animals such as hamsters, birds and fish into shelter. With the goal of raising $250,000 for program support and expansion, URI plans to launch PALS in its three other domestic violence shelters in New York City and welcome dogs into shelter as well.

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