For the last five years, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals has been on the frontlines, assisting hundreds of pet owners facing crises such as domestic violence. Since domestic violence shelters in the city do not accept pets, few options exist for these difficult situations. Our program, Helping Pets and People in Crisis, responds with an understanding of the link between violence and animal welfare and because we want to ensure the pet’s safety. In these situations, our social worker responds by helping pet owners develop emergency pet plans; by providing education to ensure pets are included on Orders of Protection; and by offering resources and services to help pets and their people.
In February, the Alliance assisted Toby (not his real name), who was caught in the crossfire of family violence. His owner knew she had to leave her home, but no family member or friend was able to care for the beloved Poodle/Pomeranian. In fact, she remained in danger because she wasn’t willing to leave Toby behind. This two-year-old, absolutely adorable pooch was a valuable family member — so much so that her daughter considered him a “brother.”
When we brought Toby into our Helping Pets and People in Crisis program, his first stop was with one of our partner vets, who gave Toby a wellness exam, and then neutered and vaccinated him. He remained in boarding at the vet’s office for eight days and then we placed him with Caroline and Lily Meyer, two of our wonderful foster caretakers, for six weeks. By mid-March, Toby’s family had found a safe and stable apartment, and so we returned Toby to his family.
While these cases are never easy, we understand the importance of companion animals to families facing difficult situations. With assistance from A Kinder World Foundation, RedRover, and a loving foster home, Toby was safe from danger and cared for until he could be reunited with his family. We were able to make a difference for Toby and his family — first by offering Toby a safe place to rest his head, and then by assisting his family to keep them altogether.