Purina Play Haven Opens At NYC Domestic Violence Shelter

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson
Many women stay in abusive homes because they don’t want to leave their dogs behind. Thanks to Purina Play Haven at Urban Women’s Retreat, they no longer have to.

Can you imagine fleeing an abusive relationship and leaving your kids behind to suffer? Not a chance, right? Now imagine if the “kids” were your pets. Again, not a chance, right? Well for many heading to a domestic abuse shelter, bringing the family pet has never been an option available to them.

That’s where the Urban Resource Institute (URI) and their People and Animals Living Safely (URIPALS) program enter the picture. The program was introduced to the institute’s Urban Women’s Retreat (UWR) one of New York City’s largest domestic violence service providers and it is one of only a handful nation-wide that allows families to arrive to the shelter with Rover in tow. To date, the program has helped 43 families with 63 pets, including 38 cats, 18 dogs and a range of smaller critters such as reptiles and fish, stay together as a family unit.

Related: Because Pets Are Now Allowed In More Women’s Shelters

But we all know that fur-kids require more than just shelter from a violent home-life; they need regular exercise and socialization in order to remain physically healthy and mentally alert. That’s where pet food giant Nestlé Purina PetCare stepped up to the plate – for the second time – with the offer to fund, design and build a dog “park” at the shelter.

Opened earlier this month, the urban space complete with decking and agility equipment is the second doggie zone sponsored by Purina in support of an area shelter. In the spring of 2014, Purina Play Haven at URI’s Safe Haven shelter in Brooklyn became the first-ever dog park at a domestic violence shelter in New York City.

Related: Domestic Abuse Victims Can Find Shelter With Safe Place For Pets

Nathaniel Fields, President and CEO of URI states: “Through the URIPALS program we have witnessed first-hand how important it is for survivors to have their beloved pets by their side while they heal. From early on in the URIPALS program, Purina has been committed to supporting survivors of domestic violence and their pets. We know that the new dog park will play an integral part in helping our clients heal, and for that we are extremely grateful to Purina.”

Sharing a mindset that people and pets are better together, the partner organizations are committed to reducing barriers to safety for families and pets in domestic violence situations.

And for a true warm and fuzzy moment, Purina is further supporting the URIPALS program by donating dog and cat food, along with other dog treats and cat litter as well as creating welcome kits for families bringing pets to Urban Women’s Retreat. It also includes essentials such as including pet travel carriers, safety gates, pet beds, pet feeding and watering bowls, cat scratching posts, leashes and pet toys.

I can’t believe this type of program isn’t more common and that more shelters haven’t found a way to make this happen. In a world where therapy dogs are proven to bring comfort to the suffering, wouldn’t this be a natural fit?

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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