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The Need for Pet-Friendly Domestic Violence Shelters

By Amy P. Castro

As president of an animal rescue, I often receive pleas from people whose life circumstances have changed and they’re no longer able to keep their pets; from people who have lost jobs to military members deploying overseas. However, the saddest calls are those from people entering shelters seeking refuge from domestic violence. These callers are often more concerned for their pets than they are themselves and are desperate to avoid leaving pets behind or surrendering them permanently to shelters.

Unfortunately, only about 10 percent of domestic violence shelters in the United States allow victims to bring pets with them. As a result, many domestic violence victims don’t leave their abusers, or delay leaving because they refuse to leave their pets behind. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 71 percent of pet owners entering domestic violence shelters report their abuser had threatened, injured or killed a family pet.

Last year, Purina partnered with the RedRover, a nonprofit organization that, among other initiatives, works with domestic violence victims seeking safety for their pets, to create the Purple Leash Project. The goal of the project is to raise awareness and increase the number of pet-friendly domestic violence shelters in the U.S. Under the project, Purina has committed more than $500,000 for grants to fund pet-friendly renovations at domestic abuse shelters across the country. Purina has also donated pet food, supplies, and other resources for pet owners escaping abusive situations and is advocating in Washington for more federal resources for domestic abuse survivors with pets.

Throughout 2020, Purina and its associates have been working to bring awareness to this issue and increase the number of pet-friendly shelters across the country, but they need everyone’s support. Here are just a few ways you can support the Purple Leash Project and help raise awareness of the need for more pet-friendly domestic violence shelters across the country:

Share on social media

  • Use and encourage your customers to use social media to support survivors with pets using #PurpleLeashProject and highlighting one of the sobering statistics mentioned above.
  • Download and share the 8 Signs of Abuse
  • Share Safe Place for Pets, RedRover’s national directory connecting people to pet-friendly domestic violence resources.

Stay current on Purple Leash initiatives

Visit to receive updates and learn more ways to get involved with the cause.

Support Purple Leash Promotions

Retailers can make an impact each May by carrying the Purple Leash Project Beggin Strips merchandising shipper designed to drive attention and awareness for the cause and sales of 6-ounce bags of Beggin Strips Original with Bacon. More initiatives are also coming from other Purina brands in the near future, especially for October which is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. To learn more, contact your Purina sales rep.


Encourage your followers and customers to donate to the Purple Leash Project. With a recurring donation of at least $5 a month, or a one-time donation of $60 or more, they’ll receive a limited-edition purple leash featuring the Purple Leash Project motto: Walk. Heal. Together.