This is a sponsored post on behalf of Purina.
If you weren’t already aware, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Several years ago Purina partnered with the Urban Resource Institute (URI) and its People and Animals Living Safely (URIPALS) program to develop a long-term relationship to help survivors of domestic violence, and their pets, live in a safe place together as they recover and heal. At its core, this relationship demonstrates Purina’s commitment and their belief that people and pets are better together – one of the driving principles behind the Purina brand. Remember that Purina Better With Pets Summit I attended in 2016?Yep, it was all about how our lives are better with pets!
I am partnering with Purina this month to help spread the word about the great things Purina is doing in partnership with URI and URIPALS program. As a Purina ambassador, this is one of reasons why I love my job so much – Purina is a company that really cares, not just about pets, but about the people who love them too!
As a human mama to two dogs and three cats, I can tell you firsthand what it’s like to have to make a decision about staying or leaving a situation because of your pets. While I have fortunately never been the victim of domestic violence, I recently went through the nerve-wracking dilemma of what to do as Hurricane Irma dramatically approached Florida as a Category 5 hurricane.
Do I stay or do I go? How can I evacuate with two dogs and three cats in the car? Where can I go that is safe, but also allows me to bring in a small horde of animals? It’s not like I have ONE DOG, or ONE CAT…at that moment, when Florida was declared to be under a State of Emergency – yes, let that sink in, okay? A STATE OF EMERGENCY – I had to decide what to do. I couldn’t possibly leave any of my animals in my home alone if I evacuated, which our governor implored us to do in Miami-Dade county. What ended up happening was I took Gizmo and Hazel with me as I evacuated, and Angeline kept Bailey, Toby and Kuro with her and her other dog, Kobe, as she evacuated to a friend’s house in a different area of the city.
It wasn’t too bad taking just Gizmo and Hazel, they mostly hid under the bed at my friend’s house and crept out at night to get into bed with me. While it was a comfort to have them with me, I constantly regretted not bringing Bailey and Toby with me (not so much Kuro, as he is actually Angeline’s cat and I knew he was fine being with her). Did they miss me? Were they scared? Was Angeline taking proper care of them and ensuring that they were calm and peaceful? As people began losing power and it became increasingly difficult to get through to anyone, I realized…this is why a lot of people don’t evacuate during natural disasters when they have pets at home. It’s really like leaving your child behind – and I know that firsthand, as Angeline refused to evacuate with me. I was doubly worried; I was frightened for her as well as my pups.
I’m so grateful that I at least had Gizmo and Hazel with me to help keep me calm and give me a sense of home while I rode out the hurricane on the other side of the state.
While this is absolutely NOTHING like being a victim of domestic violence, it gave me a newfound appreciation for what the people at The Urban Resource Institute are doing to help pet owners stay together with their pets when they flee dangerous situations. BLESS THEIR SOULS!
The Urban Resource Institute in New York is one of the very few domestic violence shelters in the United States that is able to accommodate victims and their pets, and since 2013, they’ve partnered with Purina to help grow their pet-friendly program URIPALS (Urban Resource Institute’s People and Animals Living Safely). I’ve known about this partnership for a while now, as I was a Purina ambassador back when they first began working together. We even made gift boxes for URIPALS recipients at our last Better with Pets Summit!
Why is this so important? Well, studies have shown that 48% of domestic violence victims stay in abusive relationships out of fear of what would happen if they left their pets behind. That is almost half…half of victims don’t leave because they don’t want to leave their pets. Can you imagine? I can not. And that is heartbreaking, especially when you consider that those same studies also show that 70% of domestic violence victims have reported that their abuser threatened, injured or killed their pet.
Yes, KILLED THEIR PET.
As of September 2017, URIPALS has assisted 74 families escape and 106 pets escape abusive situations. It is our hope that this number continues to grow and that more and more shelters and programs are put into place to help victims of domestic violence escape WITH their beloved pets – for everyone’s safety!
Click this link to read about Purina’s commitment to URI and spreading awareness for domestic violence during October!
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for support at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). They’re available 24/7/365.