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URI Receives $65K Grant for Pet Park at NYC Domestic Violence Shelter


Press release: Urban Resource Institute

Urban Resource Institute (URI), the largest provider of domestic violence residential services in the U.S. and a pioneer in co-living for survivors and their pets, has announced a $65,000 grant from the Banfield Foundation to support the construction of an outdoor pet park to be enjoyed by domestic violence survivors and their pets. The Banfield Foundation Pet Park will be built at URI’s newest family shelter, Brighter Days, in New York City. This latest funding supports the innovative URI People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) program and brings Banfield’s total financial support to $132,000.

Brighter Days is the seventh pet-friendly domestic violence shelter among URI’s fourteen domestic violence shelters across New York City, and the Banfield Foundation Pet Park will be an important addition to the services offered to the adults, children, and pets in residence. Fewer than 20 percent of domestic violence shelters nationwide offer any assistance or accommodations for pets, and even fewer permit co-living for people and pets. This creates a significant barrier for families and individuals with pets seeking safety from domestic abuse. The URI PALS program was founded in 2013 to address this service gap by providing co-living apartments and comprehensive services for survivors with their pets to live and heal together, and URI remains the only service provider in New York City with this option.

“The URI People and Animals Living Safely Program addresses a critical need in services for domestic violence survivors — the accommodation of pets. Keeping families and pets together empowers survivors to leave a dangerous situation knowing their entire family can stay safely together, and it enhances the healing process for all,” said Nathaniel M. Fields, CEO of URI. “It is through generous donations from funders like the Banfield Foundation that we are able to continue to expand our services, increase our capacity and impact, and support survivors and their pets.”

To add to the visual appeal of the Banfield Foundation Pet Park, local artist Elijah Minton has been commissioned to create a mural on the wall surrounding the area that will amuse and inspire the residents. Elijah is committed to creating art to uplift communities, and his designs for the new mural will convey a hopeful, whimsical space. This marks URI’s fourth mural project with Elijah, with previous murals including another Banfield Foundation Pet Park at URI’s Harmony House domestic violence shelter.

“Having safe shelter and access to an outdoor space where families can play freely and without fear is essential, especially when a pet is involved. Access to a pet park and playground is so important when thinking about how families interact, bond, and begin to rebuild their lives,” said Kim Van Syoc, Executive Director, Banfield Foundation. “This is exactly why we are so proud to once again partner with Urban Resource Institute to help create a safe space for people and pets to live together and play together — and mostly importantly, heal together.”

Intersection of Pets and Domestic Violence

The intersection of pets and domestic violence is an area of growing awareness and interest. As reported in the URI PALS Report & Survey: Domestic Violence and Pets: Breaking Barriers to Safety and Healing, which includes a survey conducted by URI and the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 97 percent of domestic violence survivors indicate that keeping pets is an important factor in seeking shelter and 50 percent will not consider shelter for themselves without their pet. The human-animal bond also aids in the healing process, with 91 percent of survivors reporting the presence of pets as a significant factor in their healing. The PALS program was created in 2013 to address this major barrier by providing co-living for people and pets as well as specially trained staff and holistic services for the human and animal residents. The availability of a safe outdoor space like the Banfield Foundation Pet Parks adds to the healing environment.

The Brighter Days shelter was completed in March 2022 with 45 pet-friendly apartment-style units for domestic violence survivors and their families, expanding the capacity of the PALS program to 545 total units in URI shelters. The Banfield Foundation Pet Park construction will commence in late Spring 2022, supported by this latest grant.

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