Shelter From the Storm

This week marks Roo’s third birthday.

photo-3rooI have barely lived in New York without a dog — save for a few months when we first arrived in the city, and about a year between the time when Andrew and I legally separated and when we filed for divorce.

As to Roo himself, It is hard to believe that my beautiful, shaggy furball will turn three this week (more on New York and Dogs later).  I cannot seem to wrap my mind around the idea that this lifesaving beast could possibly be getting older.

Related to this passage of three years, some of you know that for the past three+ years, I have volunteer with an group called DOVE in Columbia Hospital’s emergency department.  With DOVE, I work with medical providers and law enforcement as an advocate for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence in the immediate aftermath of trauma.

So today, you’ll know that I was heartened to see that New York’s Urban Resource Institute (URI) appeared in the news as New York City’s first shelter to permit survivors of domestic violence to bring their pets with them into URI’s facility.  URI provides housing and resources to those escaping violence, as well as providing addiction services, and assistance to those with developmental disabilities.

Personally, I would lay my life down for my dog.  I would compromise my safety for the well-being of the little life that has been entrusted to me.  So I understand why someone might not leave a difficult — or dangerous — situation if unable to bring along the family pet.  Further, countless studies have show that abusers of people also abuse animals.

However, many other pieces of scholarship have shown that pets have a profoundly positive impact on trauma-survivors’ well-being.  And so taking the family pet along in a moment of crisis is good not only for the pet but also for the survivors.

URI is striving to do good work with its pilot program of letting people bring their pets along when they leave domestic violence situations.  You can donate here to help fund the mission, and help New Yorkers in need.

* Here’s a link to the press release about the pet pilot program: [press release]

* Here’s a link to a local news article about why keeping families together (including pets!) is important: [nydn]

The fact of the matter is: Urban living is sometimes vicious.  It can be hard, and harsh, and difficult under the best of circumstances.  Under the worst of circumstances, it can be simply unbearable.  So I am glad to know that in my fair city, we are working to keep families together — families meaning the human-and-beast parts alike.

(Throughout the month of June, I’ll be writing a series of New York-related posts, and/or inviting some friends to guest post about their New York experiences, to celebrate my eight years in New York City.)

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