The first domestic violence shelter for people with pets has opened its doors in New York City.
PALS – short for People and Animals Living Safely – is one of the only shelters in the United States to allow domestic violence victims to bring their pets when they flee abusive homes.
PALS will initially run as a pilot scheme until the end of the year.
Social services organisation the Urban Resources Institute launched the scheme, in response, it claims, to serious demand.
“Today, national data show that more than 40 per cent of domestic violence victims stay in abusive situations out of fear of what would happen if they left their pets behind. Plus, more than 70 per cent of pet owners who enter shelter report that the abuser has threatened, injured or killed family pets. Yet in New York City—the largest provider of domestic violence services in the country with more than 50 shelters—not one shelter currently allows pets in residence, until now.”
Allie Phillips is founder of Sheltering Animals & Families Together, a global initiative set up to help domestic violence shelters meet the needs of families with pets. She aid:
“Urban Resource Institute’s PALS program will change the way New York City assists families with pets experiencing violence. Lives will be saved due to URI’s recognition that pets are part of the family and can be targeted in situations of family violence.”
Initially restricted to cats and smaller animals, the Institute plans to add dogs to the list of animals welcomed. It also hoped to expand PALS into three other shelters in the New York area.