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Now families can bring their dogs to Brooklyn domestic violence shelter

Many abusers go after pets, too

March 20, 2014 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The first domestic violence shelter in New York City with a dog park opened in Brooklyn on Tuesday. Photo by Jordan H. Star
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Now Sparky can come to the shelter.

Many domestic violence victims – up to half, depending on the study — don’t flee from their abusive situations because they are afraid of what will happen to their pets.

In New York City, out of 50 domestic violence shelters, only one, launched by Urban Resource Institute (URI) last year in Brooklyn, allows victims to bring pets to a shelter. But even here, while families were allowed to bring two small animals — cats or a cat and a little critter like a bird, fish, turtle or gerbil — there was no place for dogs.

So it was a joyous occasion on Tuesday when URI and Nestlé Purina PetCare cut the ribbon on the city’s first-ever dog park in a domestic violence shelter, called the Purina Play Haven and Dog Park.

With the opening of the dog park, formerly an empty alleyway, URI will now be able to open its doors to families with dogs.

“When my children and I found out that we could bring our dog, Sparky, with us into shelter, we were overjoyed,” said one shelter resident, who asked to remain anonymous, in a statement. “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.”

Spunky black and white ‘Peppah Ray’ joined Sparky at the play haven on Tuesday while officials celebrated the ribbon cutting.

The event marks the official expansion of URIPALS—People and Animals Living Safely. URI says the initiative is necessary because a high percentage of pet owners who enter shelters report that the abuser has threatened, injured, or killed family pets.

Purina contributed funds for the design and construction of the unique dog park which 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. The park was designed by Brooklyn’s Geppaul Architects.

Shown above: (Left to right) Allison Cardona, ASPCA; Jane Hoffman, Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals; Rose Pierre-Louis, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence; Nathaniel Fields, Urban Resource Institute; Whittaker Mack, Urban Resource Institute; Lindsey Hogan, Nestlé Purina PetCare; Amritpal “Paul” Singh, New Age Global Builders; Gerard Paul, Geppaul Architects.

According to the ASPCA, there is a strong link between animal abuse and domestic violence. Women who seek safety at shelters are nearly 11 times more likely to report that their partner has hurt or killed their animals than women who have not experienced domestic abuse, the organization reports. And many of the abusers use violence against animals to intimidate and control family members.

Lindsey Hogan, brand manager for Purina, said in a statement, “We’re very proud to support the Urban Resource Institute and its PALS program, which is helping to keep families and pets together during difficult times.”

“Since launching URIPALS, we’ve seen how transformative it is for families in domestic violence situations to go through the healing process together with their pets,” said Nathaniel Fields, President of URI.  He said the social services organization hopes to build more pet-friendly shelters around the city.

“I applaud URI, Purina, and Geppaul Architects for their unique and innovative collaboration to create the City’s first-ever dog park in a domestic violence shelter and for appreciating that a pet is more than just an animal in your home,” Rose Pierre-Louis, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, said in a statement.

A list of safety tips, such as placing pets on an order of protection, is available at Anyone needing immediate help or assistance should call the NYC DV Hotline: 1-800-621-HOPE (4673).

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