Comprehensive guide from the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals covers topics including domestic violence, homelessness, hoarding, illness, among others.
A mentally challenged woman is evicted from her apartment but refuses to enter a shelter because it won’t allow her three cats. An elderly man refuses urgent medical care because he has no one to look after his dog. A domestic violence victim returns to her abuser because he threatens to kill the family pet if she does not.
These are just a few of the many heartbreaking and complex situations faced by New York’s pet owners and by the social workers and human services organizations that help them.
Today, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, a coalition of more than 150 New York City non-profit animal shelters and rescue groups, has launched the Helping People and Pets in Crisis Toolkit, a first-of-its-kind online resource for these front-line professionals.
Divided into six sections covering domestic violence, illness and hospitalization, homelessness, animal hoarding, pet relinquishment and animal-assisted therapy, the Toolkit offers a comprehensive set of resources, assessment tools and promising intervention techniques for virtually every type of crisis involving pets and their owners.
The Toolkit is an outgrowth of the Alliance’s Helping Pets and People in Crisis program, spearheaded by social worker Jenny Coffey, LMSW. Created in 2008, the program has helped in more than 1,000 individual cases in which New Yorkers faced life-challenging situations involving pets. Coffey assembled the Toolkit from her years of experience combining animal welfare and human welfare in New York City.
“This one-of-a-kind initiative extends the reach of one of the Alliance’s flagship programs,” said Jane Hoffman, President of the Alliance. “Every year, the number of calls we get about pet owners in crisis has grown exponentially, and we don’t foresee any let-up. With the launch of the Helping Pets and People in Crisis Toolkit, we’re able to share what we’ve learned, through our collaboration with dozens of other dedicated animal and human services organizations, about how to help pet owners deal with difficult and often unforeseen circumstances.”
In the Helping People and Pets in Crisis Toolkit, human services professionals will find a wide range of suggestions, intervention strategies and resources to help them assist pet owners in crisis. Each section identifies a problem, explains how to recognize it and suggests ways to address it:
Domestic Violence and Pets – Describes the role pets play in such situations and how to extricate domestic violence victims and their pets from them. Special Features: How to help clients develop a pet-safety plan, request an order of protection, or petition to have a pet registered as a therapy animal.
Homelessness and Pets – Explains how to assist the 5 to 10 percent of homeless people who own pets and who are precluded from entering homeless shelters because of the prohibitions against them. Special Features: Links to helpful organizations like the Animal Relief Fund, Feeding Pets of the Homeless, Seer Farms and Collide; information on Americans with Disabilities Act regulations and on New York City housing programs that allow pets.
Hospitalization, Illness and Pets – Explains how to arrange temporary or permanent care of pets for infirm or elderly patients without family or friends. Special Features: Information about temporary care, “re-homing” and requesting help from Animal Care & Control of NYC.
Animal Hoarding – Explains how to recognize and address animal hoarding. Special Features: Animal Hoarding Assessment tool.
Pet Relinquishment – Explains how to help clients deal with life events that may require giving up a pet. Special Features:Tips on “re-homing” animals.
Animal-Assisted Therapy – Explains how to identify situations in which pets might play a therapeutic role, helping clients improve their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Special Features: An explanation of the differences among Service, Assistance and Therapy Animals; links to animal-therapy organizations.
Resources – Provides a recap of all of the resources mentioned throughout the site. Special Features: Hyperlinks and complete contact information.
Tips & Tools – Provides suggestions for social workers preparing to meet with individuals and families with pets, including tips on how pets can be used to engage otherwise reluctant clients, and what can be learned about an owner’s situation based on the condition of her pets. Special Features: Colorful, easy-to-read charts; links to local pet services for every possible need.
The Helping People and Pets in Crisis Toolkit is just one of the many resources available through the Alliance. To see all of them, visit www.AnimalAllianceNYC.org.