The first-ever dog park in a domestic violence shelter, called the Purina Play Haven and Dog Park has opened in New York City. It is a milestone because it means that domestic violence survivors entering the shelter who were previously only allowed to bring cats, and small animals will now be able to keep their dogs too.
The dog park is the result of collaboration with the Urban Resource Institute (URI) an organization which provides comprehensive, holistic, and supportive social services programs that help individuals and families in the New York metropolitan area overcome obstacles and better their lives.
The unique dog park features a ramp, tunnel, bridge and platform for dogs to play and exercise, as well as overhead trellises to ensure the privacy and security of shelter residents.
“At Purina we share the belief that when pets and people are together, life is truly better,” said Lindsey Hogan, brand manager for the Purina brand. “We’re very proud to support the Urban Resource Institute and its PALS (People and Animals Living Safely) program, which is helping to keep families and pets together during difficult times.”
Studies show that as many as 48% of domestic violence victims stay in abusive situations out of fear of what would happen if they left their pets behind, and more than 70% of pet owners who enter shelter report that the abuser has threatened, injured, or killed family pets.
“When my children and I found out that we could bring our dog, Sparky, with us into shelter, we were overjoyed,” said one domestic violence survivor currently in the shelter. “Sparky had always been there with us to comfort and even protect us from the abuse, and having him there with us as we work to put our lives back together makes our recovery process so much better.”
The event also convened elected officials and experts and leaders in the domestic violence and animal welfare communities to discuss the importance of this critical initiative.
Hopefully this is a blue print more many more shelters around the country to realized how important animals are to families in times to stress and cater to this situation.
To learn more about the program for tips on keeping the entire family safe in domestic violence situations, please visit www.urinyc.org.