Pets and Domestic Violence

Jan 25, 2018 | Pet Health, Pets

In relation to my last post on animal abuse, I wanted to talk about another form of abuse that we don’t normally think about and that is a pet kept in a harmful environment such as a domestic violence home.  According to an article I found at, the love for a pet compels victims of domestic violence to stay in unsafe situations. Leaving a pet behind in a harmful environment can be emotionally devastating, so up to 48% of people in abusive relationships will stay rather than seek help in order to remain with their pets.  This is both stressful and traumatic for a pet and can have both harmful and lasting effects.  

Several years ago, I was a product of domestic violence where not only I was abused but my pets were abused as well.  I know first hand what it’s like to experience abuse and to fear for your pet’s safety.  The night I had to rush my puppy to the emergency vet and spend $1,000 because rat poisoning was put out by my ex for her to find was the final straw.  I would rush from work to try and beat my ex home every night so that I could get there before he did to protect my animals from him but that night I was kept late working on a specific project.  I found Bella on the basement floor when I got home and saved her.  I made a promise to Bear and Bella that they would never be scared again and I left my marriage and filed for divorce.  Never stay, never live in fear, and never put your pet through something that would make them afraid.  There IS help out there!  URIPALS, Pet Help Line, and RedRover (see information below) to name a few as well as calling your local animal shelter to ask for assistance if you, your child, and your pet are in a domestic violence situation.  

Since 2014, the Urban Resource Institute (URI) has been providing refuge to people experiencing domestic violence and their pets. That year, URI launched URIPALS, which stands for the Urban Resource Institute’s People and Animals Living Safety program. The People and Animals Living Safely program was the first of its kind. The New York City shelter is the city’s first initiative to allow victims of domestic violence and pets to live together in shelters.

The URIPALS program started small, only allowing small pets, then later with the help of Purina was more equipped to handle pets of all kinds.  First Purina helped by donating food and creating welcome kits.  Then, as the shelter’s program grew, Purina helped by funding expansions and assisting as they built secure outdoor spaces in the Brooklyn and Harlem shelter locations.  

Because URI and URIPALS is a local New York City initiative, its impact is limited geographically.  As of September 2016, the URIPALS program has assisted 58 families coming into their program with 82 pets among them. A majority have been cats and dogs, but they also had seven turtles, a beta fish, and a beta dragon reptile.  


Experiencing domestic violence, or know someone who needs assistance? Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week for support, resources, and advice for your safety: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Bilingual advocates are on hand.


RedRover offers financial assistance for victims of domestic violence and their pets through our RedRover Relief program.

  • Safe Escape grants pay for temporary boarding and/or veterinary care to enable domestic violence victims to remove their pets to safety. For safety reasons, the application must be submitted by a shelter worker.
  • Safe Housing grants grants fund start-up costs for domestic violence shelters seeking to house pets on site. RedRover partners with Sheltering Animals and Families Together (SAF-T) to help shelters implement the program.
  • is an online directory of pet support programs for pet owners facing domestic violence.

Pet Help Line

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