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Brighter Days shelter pet park

Domestic Violence Survivors with Pets Get New Pet Park at URI Residence

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 plans to create a new outdoor pet park to be enjoyed by residents and their pets. Construction of the pet park will begin in late spring at URI’s newest family shelter, Brighter Days, in Queens. A $65,000 grant from the Banfield Foundation will support construction of the pet park.

The Brighter Days shelter was completed in March, becoming the ninth pet-friendly domestic violence shelter among URI’s fourteen domestic violence shelters across New York City. The shelter’s 45 pet-friendly apartment-style units for domestic violence survivors and their families increase URI’s total number of pet-friendly units in URI shelters to more than 300.

Fewer than 20 percent of domestic violence shelters nationwide offer any assistance or accommodations for pets. 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. 

A survey conducted by URI and the National Domestic Violence Hotline found that 97 percent of domestic violence survivors indicated that keeping pets is an important factor in seeking shelter. Fifty percent of survey respondents said they would not consider shelter for themselves without their pet. This and more information is available in the free, downloadable PALS Report and Survey: Breaking Barriers to Safety and Healing.

To address this major barrier in providing safety for pet-owning families experiencing domestic violence, URI introduced its innovative People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) program in 2013. The program provides co-living apartments and comprehensive services for domestic violence survivors with their pets to live and heal together. URI remains the only service provider in New York City with this option.

The Mayor’s Alliance is privileged to have been a part of the PALS program launch. The Alliance provided support to URI in the form of crucial expertise and technical assistance addressing the link between animal welfare and human welfare. The Alliance also provided crates, pet beds, bowls, and other supplies for the URI shelters, and arranged to have the launch press event at the prestigious House of the New York City Bar Association.

“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, Chief Executive Officer, URI.

“Nine of URI’s fourteen shelters throughout New York City offer the PALS program,” explained Danielle Emery, URI PALS Director. “With the opening of our Brighter Days shelter, we now have four PALS shelters that offer Tier 2 transitional housing, which offers residents a continuum of care that extends beyond time limited Tier 1 emergency housing.”

“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,” said Kim Van Syoc, Executive Director, Banfield Foundation. “Access to a pet park and playground is so important when thinking about how families interact, bond, and begin to rebuild their lives.”

URI commissioned local artist Elijah Minton to design and paint three murals for the new pet park. The murals are intended to amuse and inspire the residents. Elijah is committed to creating art to uplift communities, and his designs for the new murals 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.

Elijah Minton’s murals at Harmony House, another URI PALS domestic violence shelter, provide a preview of his unique style which he will bring to the new murals he is creating at the Banfield Pet Park at Brighter Days.

For more information about URI and/or the PALS program, visit https://urinyc.org. If you have specific questions about the PALS program that you cannot find answers to on the website, you can email PALSinfo@urinyc.org. To download the free PALS Report and Survey: Breaking Barriers to Safety and Healing, please visit https://urinyc.org/palsreport/

If you need help escaping domestic abuse or are a family in need of shelter, call:

NYC’s 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline 800-621-4673

National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 (TTY)

NYC Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project 212-714-1141

In the event of an emergency, call or text 911