Target: Jennifer White-Reid, Vice President – Domestic Violence Programs at the Urban Resource Institute
Goal: Commend The Urban Resource Institute for allowing those fleeing domestic violence to bring their pets.
Shelters play an integral part in the fight against domestic violence, providing survivors with help–medically, financially, and emotionally–as they bravely start their lives over. However, many shelters are not able to house survivors’ beloved pets. While this may seem frivolous in comparison to the horrific abuse domestic violence survivors have experienced, pets actually play a large role in survivors’ recovery–and whether they choose to leave an abusive situation in the first place. That’s why the Urban Resource Institute (URI) deserves to be commended; it recently became the first shelter in New York City to provide accommodation for domestic abuse victims and their pets. Sign the petition and applaud the URI’s program.
Domestic violence is a horrific problem that is far too widespread in American society–for proof, one need only look at the harrowing statistic that one in every four American women has experienced domestic violence. Violence in one’s own household is notoriously difficult to escape, and many victims who consider leaving are held back because of concern over other family members. But while practically all shelters for domestic violence survivors are equipped to provide for children, few are able to accept pets. As any pet owner knows, a dog, cat, or other companion animal often becomes as much a part of the family as any human members, and many survivors are understandably unwilling to leave their pet behind with an abusive partner or family member. In fact, URI reports that “more than 40% of domestic violence victims stay in abusive situations out of fear of what would happen if they left their pets behind,” and 70% of survivors report that their abuser threatened the family pet.
Providing accommodation for pets in domestic violence shelters will remove one more barrier for women trying to leave abusive situations. It will take one more tool of manipulation away from abusers and make it a source of comfort and empowerment for survivors. And with any luck, more shelters will follow suit.
Until then, we can applaud URI’s efforts to introduce pet-friendly shelters to one of the largest cities in the United States. Sign the petition and lend your support to pet-friendly shelters.
Dear Ms. White-Reid,
Domestic violence is a truly horrific problem in American society, and it remains far too widespread. Even more unfortunately, many victims of abuse are prevented from escaping abusive situations by concern for other family members–including pets. This is why the Urban Resource Initiative’s pet-friendly shelter program is so important. Through this program, you are not only empowering domestic abuse survivors, you are setting an example for other shelters in New York City and around the world.
According to your own statistics, 40% of domestic abuse survivors have stayed in violent relationships out of fear for their pets. As any pet owner knows, pets can be as much a part of the family as humans, and anecdotal evidence from many survivors of abuse states that leaving behind their pet was one of the hardest things abuse survivors has ever had to do. Some are still dealing with the trauma of not knowing the fate of their beloved companion, or, perhaps even worse, knowing that their pet was killed as a result of their own decision to leave. No one, especially someone who has already experienced so much heartache, should have to deal with guilt and grief like this.
On that note, I would like to commend you for your pet-friendly shelter program. I have high hopes that it will inspire others to enact similar programs, and I know it will mean the world to domestic violence survivors (and their pets!) in the New York area.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: HIMinHELL via DeviantArt