Press release: Urban Resource Institute
Urban Resource Institute (URI), the largest provider of domestic violence residential services in the U.S. and an innovative leader in supporting survivors who wish to keep their pets, has announced a $50,000 grant awarded by A Kinder World Foundation (Kinder World). This latest grant brings Kinder World’s total financial support of URI to $300,000 since 2015.
The generous grant will fund the ongoing operational costs associated with URI’s People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) program, such as dedicated, trained staff and necessary supplies, as well as research into the therapeutic effect of the human-animal bond in domestic violence situations. PALS was established in 2013 by URI to provide co-living domestic violence shelter for families with pets to live and heal together in the same apartment. The goal of the PALS program is to eliminate a major barrier preventing victims from accessing safety and to help children, individuals, and families heal from trauma by keeping them and their pets together. Since the inception of PALS, 331 families and 466 pets have been sheltered together to date.
“During URI’s eight years of championing co-living for domestic violence survivors and their pets while in shelter, we have seen the positive impacts of maintaining this important human-animal bond as emotional support while healing and removing the barrier to seeking safety,” said Nathaniel M. Fields, CEO of URI. “Generous donations from our funders like A Kinder World Foundation allow us to continually increase our capacity and impact, strengthen our services, and save more lives.”
According to recent research by URI and the National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline), reported in the PALS Report & Survey: Domestic Violence and Pets: Breaking Barriers to Safety and Healing, half of domestic violence survivors will not consider shelter for themselves without their pet, and the lack of accommodations for pets in shelters can prevent them from seeking safety. Once in a safe environment, the presence of a pet is well documented as an aid to healing from trauma, which was reinforced in the data from the new survey, in which 91% reported presence of pets as a significant factor in their healing. Currently less than 10 percent of domestic violence shelters assist in securing safety for pets, and only a portion of those can accommodate “co-living” of people and pets together in the same unit.
“In the midst of their trauma, those fleeing abuse and violence should not have to face the additional heartbreak of leaving a loving member of their family behind. The PALS program has been instrumental in the effort to allow families to have the love and support of their companion animals as they seek shelter. A Kinder World Foundation is honored to have helped support PALS work from its inception,” noted Kathleen Savesky Buckley, philanthropic advisor of Kinder World.
Combined with a recent grant from PetSmart Charities, the Kinder World funding will be used over a two-year period to evaluate the experience of survivors and pets in URI’s shelters to measure the efficacy of a co-living model in domestic violence shelter settings. The survey will assess the impact of entering shelter with and without a pet in terms of the survivors’ coping strategies, healing, and resilience, and the results will inform the PALS program and programs nationwide on needs and best practices for sheltering survivors of domestic violence with their pets.