QUEENS, N.Y. (PIX11) — A Queens domestic violence shelter is the ninth of its kind to accept families and their pets, but it’s a first for the borough. The goal of the shelter is to remove barriers by allowing family members, both human and animal, to escape dangerous living situations.
Hope Dawson, who made the brave choice to move to New York and leave a domestic violence situation, said she has felt like she “invited the boogeyman in” to her life. And when she decided it was time to leave with her two kids, she told PIX11 News she knew she couldn’t leave her beloved dog behind.
Dawson said Cocoa, a Chihuahua-terrier mix, provided refuge and happiness amid a scary situation.
“She really was the emotional support we needed to get through what we were going through,” Dawson added.
According to Urban Resource Institute CEO Nathaniel Fields, 48% of domestic violence victims don’t want to leave their pets behind. His organization talked to survivors and decided to do something by providing access to pet-friendly shelters.
In Queens, 62 families and their pets can be housed at the Urban Resource Institutes new shelter. Apartments include everything for families — from cribs to kennels.
According to the Urban Resource Institute, 1,300 people die every year from domestic violence. More than half of the women murdered in New York City are victims of domestic violence, a number Fields said is too high to accept.
“We don’t want any barrier to be in place when people are seeking safety,” he said.
If you or someone you know are experiencing domestic violence, click here for resources.