This post is sponsored by Purina. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
As a pet person, it’s really difficult for me to imagine any situation in which I’d leave my pets behind. They’re domesticated but really a better word for it is dependent.
My pets are probably a tad overweight and never have to worry about where their next meal is coming from or whether or not they have health coverage. They know that I’ll take care of them no matter what and in return, they love me, snuggle me, annoy me, play with me, and generally perk me up no matter what mood I’m in.
If there was a natural disaster and I was forced to evacuate, the pets would come with me. Ideally, we’d find a pet-friendly shelter but we’d sleep in the car if we had to. I’m not sure what my cats and dogs would think about it but we’re family and we’d make it work.
Is any of this resonating with you?
Now let’s think of another situation. A woman, much like myself, has pets and children that she loves dearly. They’re family to her. And her family is in danger from another kind of risk: domestic violence.
She reaches the point where she knows she has to leave. Whether it’s for the sake of her children or her own life, she’s ready to get out and needs help to stay safe. But what does she do about her pets?
70% of pet owners who enter shelters report that the abuser has threatened, injured or killed family pets.
If you thought of your pets as members of the family, would you leave them behind in that situation?
Studies show 48% of domestic violence victims stay in abusive situations out of fear of what would happen if they left their pets behind.
That’s how deep love and devotion runs when it comes to family pets. And Purina recognizes this conundrum for victims of abusers so they’ve been working on a solution with the Urban Resource Institute in NYC.
In 2013, Purina began a partnership with the Urban Resource Institute and its People and Animals Living Safely (URIPALS) program to develop a long-term relationship to help survivors of domestic violence, and their pets, live in a safe place together.
I attended the Purina’s Better with Pets Summit in 2014 where they talked about the partnership and I had an opportunity to listen to a survivor talk first-hand about what it meant for her to be able to bring her three cats with her.
URIPALS is the only non-profit program in NYC, and one of the few in the United States, that allows domestic violence survivors to co-shelter with their pets. And it’s working. As of September 2017, URIPALS has assisted 74 families escape and 106 pets escape abusive situations.
At the 2016 Better with Pets Summit, we supported the program by packing care packages for both dog and cat members of the family that may accompany their owners to a URIPALS shelter.
Read more about Purina’s work with these shelters and how you can support URI.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for support at 1-800- 799-SAFE (7233). They’re available 24/7/365.