With the opening of a first-of-its-kind dog park, a shelter in New York City is offering sanctuary not only to victims of domestic violence, but also to their pets.
Petful readers might remember reading about the URIPALS (People and Animals Living Safely) pilot program, which launched in June 2013 with the acceptance of families in the shelter along with their cats and small animals.
Opening after several months in partnership with Gerald Paul from GPPAUL Architects, the new park marks the expansion of the pilot program to now include dogs.
“We created the dog park to accommodate the families in our 10 designated pet-friendly apartments,” says Jennifer White-Reid, vice president of URI’s domestic violence programs.
URI learned about the impact of the program through the stories of its clients. “A client told us about living in a domestic violence shelter before coming to us,” says White-Reid. “While she was in that other shelter, she kept her dog in her car, but she was always worried. From time to time, she would sneak her dog into that shelter in violation of rules.”
Once the URIPALS program was able to accommodate dogs, the woman was accepted into the shelter. “She has 3 children, and they’re all so relieved to have their dog with them again.”
Keeping Families Together — Safely
The dog park has unique features including a ramp, tunnel, bridge and platform for the dogs to play and exercise together.
There are also overhead trellises with plants and vines for additional security.
“We always explain the importance of having the shelter connected to the dog park so that our clients don’t have to go out into the community and meet individuals who might ask questions as to where they live,” says White-Reid.
“We’ve found through conversation with our clients that not being able to move into a shelter with their animals caused significant delays. Keeping the whole family together, along with their pets, has helped with the healing process. It’s something that needs to be replicated throughout the city.”
Here’s a quick video, from sponsor Purina, that explains more about the program:
Hoping to Expand Further
URI has 4 domestic violence shelters in NYC. It has been developing this model program in hopes of replicating it at the other 3 shelters.
“We also want to move the domestic violence field forward and have this conversation throughout the community,” says White-Reid. “We’re hoping to inspire other providers to establish a similar type of program.”
The dog park features a place to walk dogs along the side of the building, waste disposal, a water pump — all the features that appear in state-of-the-art dog parks in New York City.
How You Can Help
Donations are being sought to expand this much needed program. No donation is too small. This groundbreaking program is important — and we want to see it thrive and become a permanent fixture.
It’s easy to donate. Just go to this page to donate either online or by mail.