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Out of the Cage! The Blog of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals

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The Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals and the Urban Resource Institute teamed up in May 2013 to create People and Animals Living Safely (PALS), a program that allows people fleeing domestic violence, like Murel Raggi and her daughter, to take their pets with them to shelters. (Photo by Urban Resource Institute)

The Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals and the Urban Resource Institute teamed up in May 2013 to create People and Animals Living Safely (PALS), a program that allows people fleeing domestic violence, like Murel Raggi and her daughter, to take their pets with them to shelters.

Photo by Urban Resource Institute

Helping Pets and People in Crisis

Note: If you need immediate assistance for you and your pet in a domestic violence situation, please contact Urban Resource Institute.

The Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals created the Helping Pets and People in Crisis program in 2006 in response to the many requests we received from people facing heartbreaking separation from their pets during times of crisis. The program provided assistance to individuals and families fleeing domestic violence; seniors requiring medical care outside of their home; and families facing eviction or other temporary setbacks.

By collaborating with traditional social services, we offered creative solutions and pet welfare services aimed at keeping pets with their families or reuniting them quickly once their situation was stabilized. If reunification was not possible, the pets were placed for adoption, sparing families already in crisis the further distress of relinquishing their beloved pet in a shelter.

Marion Dougherty Safe Haven Fund

Funding for the Helping Pets and People in Crisis program was provided in part by private donors who recognized the magnitude of the human-animal bond and the critical value of ensuring that families seeking refuge from domestic violence do not have to leave their pets behind. In 2012, the program received a significant gift of $80,000, which allowed the Alliance to create the Marion Dougherty Safe Haven Fund in honor of the well-known and greatly beloved Hollywood casting director who was forced to leave her pets behind when escaping a domestic violence situation in the 1970s. The fund helped the Alliance pay for pet vaccinations, spay/neuter surgeries, and short-term boarding while families sought safety from abuse, ensuring that their pets could flee to safety as well. This generous support helped transform the lives of numerous domestic violence victims and their pets.

Partnership with Urban Resource Institute

In May 2013, the Alliance began a partnership with Urban Resource Institute (URI) and its People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) pilot program. PALS is the first program for victims of domestic violence in New York City — and one of the few offered nationwide — that offers co-sheltering for families and their pets. The program allows families and their pets to shelter in the emergency facility, preserving the welfare and safety of all. PALS began by accepting small animals, such as cats, rabbits, birds, and fish, and later expanded to include dogs. The Alliance provided essential support to URI in the form of crucial expertise and technical assistance addressing the link between animal welfare and human welfare, as well as pet welfare assistance.

Helping Pets and People in Crisis Toolkit

After assisting in more than 1,000 individual cases since the Helping Pets and People in Crisis program's launch, we compiled an extensive collection of important resources, information, and promising interventions to help people, along with their pets, during the most challenging times in their lives. In 2015, to make these resources easily accessible to social workers and human service organizations and to help them incorporate pet welfare into their work, we created an online Helping Pets and People in Crisis Toolkit.

While this toolkit did not serve as an all-inclusive review of available options or resources when dealing with people and their pets in crisis, it provided a suggested list of resources, research, assessment tools, and promising practice intervention techniques created as a reference guide for social service professionals. Much of the information was geared to those in New York City, but could be modified for other communities. The Helping Pets and People in Crisis Toolkit currently is being transferred to another non-profit organization that will update and modify the information. Once the transition has been completed, we will provide access to the updated information via a link on this page.

Note: If you need immediate assistance for you and your pet in a domestic violence situation, please contact Urban Resource Institute.