October 25, 2019
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This one thing can help domestic violence shelters save more lives

Here are three stories about how animals are playing a role in renewing our communities.

For many, pets are an important member of the family. Photo by Lepale/Pixabay

Each week, The Renewal Project shares three stories from around the country that highlight the innovative solutions people are creating in their communities. This week we’re featuring three stories of how animals big and small are key to solving problems in communities. What are the innovative ideas in your hometown? Tell us at info@therenewalproject.com.


Saving pets, saving lives: For many people, pets are considered a member of the family. That’s why when many victims of domestic abuse are making the decision to leave their abuser, their four-legged family members are an important factor. Some surveys show that up to 40 percent of women say they are unable to leave out of concern for the safety of their pets.

Unfortunately, many domestic violence shelters don’t take animals. According to the nonprofit Sheltering Animals and Families Together, there are only about 150 shelters that allow pets in the entire U.S. The Urban Resource Institute, the largest provider of domestic shelters in New York City, began allowing pets in their shelters as one more way to help encourage domestic abuse victims to leave.

“[Survivors] had risk factors, obstacles preventing them from seeking shelter,” Nathaniel Fields, CEO and president of URI told NationSwell. “Part of our work here today is to help understand those obstacles and not judge those obstacles.”

Last fall, URI built their first ever shelter designed specifically to house families with pets, known as PALS. The nonprofit is working with other shelters around the country to adopt pet-friendly standards.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Allstate Foundation Purple Purse offers ways you can help break the cycle of abuse, including learning the signs of domestic violence.


Down by the river: The Anacostia Watershed Society has a massive task: How do you revive a river? The Anacostia River, which runs through Washington, D.C., has been negatively affected by development, making it not a river for swimming or fishing.

But there are methods to help the ecosystem clean itself which is why the D.C. government provided a grant to the Anacostia Watershed Society to reintroduce 35,000 mussels to the river. Mussels, a type of shellfish, act as natural filters. They suck in and push out water, and in the process removing bacteria, sediment, and even microplastics. The watershed team deposited the mussels by rowing out to key locations on the river in a canoe.

“Each mussel can filter between 10 and 20 gallons a day. Just the 8,700 we are releasing this fall could filter 48 Olympic-size swimming pools a year,” Jorge Bogantes, a natural resources specialist with the Anacostia Watershed Society, told the Washington Post.


Puppy pilates: At this pilates studio in Syracuse, New York, you’ll get a workout … and a wet kiss. For $25, Precision Pilates offers a class where you can play with puppies in between planks and push-ups. The best part is it’s all for a good cause. Studio owner Terri Todd says all of the proceeds will go to Clear Path for Veterans, a local organization that has a program that trains dogs to become service animals for veterans.

Todd’s son Ryan Woodruff is a Marine Corps veteran and the director of the nonprofit’s Canine Program. He told CNN that the cost of raising and training the puppies to become service dogs costs about $25,000 per animal. Clear Path provides the dogs at no cost to the veteran.

The Renewal Project

The Renewal Project, made possible by Allstate, tells the stories of individuals and organizations who are solving problems in their communities.