Keeping Pets and People Together: Partnership Makes More Domestic Violence Shelters Pet Friendly


The bond between pets and their owners is unbreakable, but the lack of pet-friendly housing options for domestic violence victims often leaves them with a heartbreaking decision: endure abuse in order to stay with their beloved pet, or leave their pet behind. It is a decision that no person should have to make, which is why RedRover and Purina are joining forces to introduce the Purple Leash Project. This project will empower more domestic violence shelters across the United States to become pet-friendly, so domestic abuse victims can escape with their pets and begin to heal together as survivors.

Beginning this year, Purina is committing more than $500,000 over the next four years to establish RedRover and Purina Purple Leash Project grants. These grants will be awarded on a biannual basis to provide funding and resources to transform domestic violence emergency shelters into safe spaces for survivors with pets. The Purple Leash is a visible symbol of an invisible struggle for domestic violence victims and their pets, with purple representing domestic violence awareness and the leash symbolizing the unbreakable bond between pets and their owners.

A young girl sits with her dog. Image via Oleg Green, CC BY-SA 3.0.

“We have a responsibility to our family members, friends and neighbors and their pets who may be silently suffering from domestic abuse to create safe places where they can escape and heal together,” said Nina Leigh Krueger, President of Purina. “Together with RedRover, we can reshape the way domestic violence victims and their pets are served and strengthen our communities in the process.”

Today, only roughly 10 percent of domestic violence shelters in the United States allow pets. And, sadly, nearly half of domestic violence victims won’t leave their abusers because they can’t bring their pet, creating a barrier for the safety of the entire family, including those with four paws. By working together, RedRover and Purina hope to offer more resources for domestic violence victims with pets, so that a beloved pet is never again an obstacle to leaving — instead, a leash comes to represent a lifeline that leads to a brighter future together.

RedRover + Purina Purple Leash Project grants, an extension of RedRover’s Safe Housing program, will contribute to RedRover’s goal of establishing at least one pet-friendly domestic violence shelter in each state. Since the inception of the Safe Housing program in 2012, 83 grants have been awarded to assist domestic violence shelters efforts to become pet-friendly, for a total of $598,018.77. There are currently no pet-friendly domestic violence shelters in Hawaii, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia.

A woman and her cat. Without pet-friendly shelters, victims of abuse often stay in an abusive relationship because they do not want to leave their pet. Image credit Bastian Greshake Tzovaras, CC BY-SA 3.0.

“For more than 11 years, RedRover has been working to support domestic violence survivors trying to escape abuse with their pets, and together with Purina, we’ll be able to accelerate our goals with a hope of having a pet-friendly shelter in all 50 states by 2020,” said Nicole Forsyth, President and CEO of RedRover. “Alongside Purina, we encourage any domestic violence shelter that is ready to become pet-friendly to apply for a Purple Leash Project grant. We are ready to help!”

Domestic Violence shelters interested in learning more about becoming pet friendly and applying for a RedRover + Purina Purple Leash Project grant can visit To learn more about the Purple Leash Project, visit

Watch the story of one survivor and her dog, Princess:

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an estimated 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will be a victims of some form of domestic violence in their lifetime. Domestic violence transcends ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, race and social status and comes in many forms beyond physical abuse including emotional, sexual, psychological and financial. If you or someone you love is being abused by a spouse or partner, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 for support and resources: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Bilingual advocates are available.

Featured image: a young girl and a dog comfort one another. Image via Pixabay.

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Founded in 1987, the mission of RedRover is to bring animals out of crisis and strengthen the bond between people and animals through emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance and education. RedRover accomplishes its mission by engaging volunteers and supporters, collaborating with others and maximizing the use of online technology. Click to see author's profile.

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