Over the holidays, I was working on my business strategy and my friend asked me “What is the essence of what you do and like? How do you know if a project fits?” I realized that I have been researching and celebrating the human-dog bond for 6 years now through our documentary TV series and our blogs and videos. That feeling that dogs make our lives better is at the core of everything we do at Talent Hounds and our other projects like Kids Pet Club, Penny P Pug, and even Pippy Love the movie.
We recently attended the 4th annual Purina Better With Pets Summit in NYC. The Summit is a celebration of the power of the human-animal bond and covers subjects like innovation in pet care and products, nutrition, the roll of passion, dogs helping children in hospitals and schools, social media, shelters for women that accept pets and creating a better world for humans and pets. It was the perfect theme for me so I wanted to share some thoughts. We had the privilege of interviewing several fellow attendees including Dr Kurt Venator, a veterinarian with Purina.
The Transformational Human-Animal Bond
Dr. Venator led the Passion Panel, which focused on the beautiful and transformational bond between pets and people. It really touched on a lot of different facets. We’ve known for a long time that pets in our lives have profound effects on our mental and physical health. We know that pet ownership and involvement with pets can help to do wonderful things like decrease blood pressure, cholesterol, triglyceride levels and increase activity level.
We also know from the emotional and well-being side that pets can decrease loneliness and can increase self-esteem. The purpose of this panel was to grab Thought Leaders that are at the forefront of these leading organizations. Industry leaders in hospitals, domestic violence shelters, and animal welfare organizations came together to share their thoughts about the power of this transformational bond.
Purina Family Pets Centre
Recognizing that pets can have a powerful healing effect on our lives, Purina partnered with the St. Louis Children’s Hospital to create the Purina Family Pets Centre. The center that allows for visitations between a families pet and a child that is going through long term care treatment in a facility.
“If you think about it you have a child that one day perhaps is playing, walking their dogs having fun with family and friends and the next day they might be diagnosed with a terrible chronic disease that requires weeks to months in a hospital away from their family, away from their friends away from their loved one, their dog they love to walk. By allowing them the opportunity in a safe environment, in a protected environment to visit with their pet while still under the supervision of medical doctors is just remarkable. It really speaks to the healing power of pets and the beautiful bond between pets and people.” – Dr. Venator
Dr. Venator explained how Purina formed a unique partnership with the URI, the Urban Resource Institute. The URIPALS Program focuses on people and animals living safely together. People often don’t realize that there’s an important tie or opportunity between pets and domestic violence victims. When you look at the statistics they are quite profound.
“About 48% of domestic violence victims will not leave an abusive relationship out of fear of what will happen to their pet.” –Frank Ascione, Ph.D.
Pet ownership and not being able to bring your pet is an obstacle for families seeking to leave and heal from domestic violence. Many fear that the abuser might harm the animal if there’s no one there to protect it, which often happens as pets are easy targets for abuse. Since most people feel that pets are part of the family, boarding or pet foster programs are often not an option. Owners are also reluctant to separate from their beloved animals. For children in these situations losing contact with their cherished pet can be yet another source of trauma.
URI’s programs are about supporting individuals and families and protecting the whole family from abuse. Purina partnered with URI to create pet-friendly shelters with the unique pals program. The hope is to raise awareness about the impact of abuse on the entire family including pets and reduce barriers of escape and recovery. The co-sheltering model allows survivors of domestic violence to heal in a safe environment with not only their two-legged family members but also their four-legged family members.
URIPALS—People and Animals Living Safely, is now on-site at URI’s Urban Women’s Safe Haven and Urban Women’s Retreat shelters. In partnership with The Mayor’s Alliance for New York City’s Animals, the ASPCA and Purina, they provide essential start-up supplies for the pets of families entering the URIPALS program, as well as vital health services including wellness exams, vaccinations, and spays/neuters.
Thanks to Purina’s generous donation URI has been able to construct two dog parks at both the Safe Haven and Retreat shelters. In addition, Purina has provided welcome kits and educational materials to URIPALS domestic violence survivors that equip them with resources to help them recover safely with their pets in the shelter.
URIPALS Awareness Tips
- Talk to your kids: Teach children that if the family experiences violence, their job is to keep themselves safe first. Provide them with a list of who to call and where to go for help. Identify in advance possible friends or family members who can help care for your pet(s) in case of an emergency.
- Get an order of protection, making sure to include children and pets. Keep proof of pet ownership with registration records, vet records, a microchip, and/or a current photo. Make a copy of any important legal or identification documents and give it to a trusted friend or family member.
- Set aside as much emergency money as possible (cash is best).
- Pack an emergency bag. Include necessities for you and your children, as well as food, supplies, and records for your pet(s).
- Use an alternate cell phone (prepaid phone), have a secret phone and keep it in a safe place. Avoid using a shared or family cell phone.
- Use a safe computer. Consider going to a local library for free computer and internet use or an internet cafe.
- Change passwords for everything. Change pin numbers, phone, email and any other important accounts.
- Turn off location-based social media posts and avoid disclosing your location online to make it more difficult for the abuser to monitor and track you.
- Give an extra set of house keys and car keys to a friend or family member that you can trust.
- Get out: If an argument erupts and you fear for your safety, don’t stay and fight with the abuser. Leave immediately.
Domestic violence may happen at home behind closed doors, but signs of abuse are often apparent to family, friends, and members of victims’ communities. Don’t ignore the signs—get help. Whether you are being abused, or are a witness to abuse, please call our Domestic Violence Hotline: 888-279-2211 or 888-252-2890.
Purina Works With Students
Purina’s long-standing relationship with the North Shore Animal League has created a really unique program called Mutt-I-Grees. The goal of the program is to teach social and emotional skills to students so they can have more positive interactions with pets and people at home, school or in the workplace. This is a transformational program because it’s helping with self-esteem, social development, and is making richer people and pet communities.
Purina Bought Pet Finder
Purina now owns Pet Finder, a pet adopting site who celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2016. Within 20 years Pet Finder has helped find 25 million pets forever homes and continues to do so in 2017. Purina is very committed to animal welfare organizations and helping pets find forever homes. Last year alone Purina donated 31.5 million dollars in monetary donations as well as goods and services. This touched around 940 animal rescue organizations and welfare organizations across the US. having an impact on millions of cats and dogs.
Thanks to Purina for creating a happier and safer world for pets and the people who love them.