May 6, 2024

Purina Partners with Mariska Hargitay and ‘Fearless Girl’ Sculptor to Highlight Need for More Pet-Friendly DV Shelters

Purina is teaming up with actress, producer, advocate and founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation, Mariska Hargitay to unveil “Courageous Together,” a new statue by renowned “Fearless Girl” artist Kristen Visbal depicting a woman and her dog, connected by a purple leash and taking a courageous first step forward, together, as survivors leaving their abuser. The statue was commissioned as part of the Purple Leash Project, an initiative led by Purina and the nonprofit, RedRover, that aims to help more domestic violence shelters become pet-friendly so that survivors with pets can escape abuse and heal together. Currently, fewer than 20 percent of domestic violence shelters in the US allow pets.

“It’s hard to overstate the life-saving role a pet can play in helping a victim survive the isolation that is so prevalent in abusive situations and how wrenching the choice can be to leave a pet behind if a survivor decides to leave their abuser,” said Hargitay. “I deeply admire the Purple Leash Project’s vision and understanding of how a pet—and a leash—can be a lifeline for a survivor. I join them in their commitment to helping survivors reclaim lives of hope, possibility and joy—lives filled with the pets that have accompanied them on their journey!”

Startling statistics reveal that nearly half of domestic violence survivors delay leaving abusive situations because they cannot bring their pets with them. Pet lovers like Hargitay, whose family includes dog, Kaia and cat, Karma, know first-hand how powerful the human-pet bond can be and why leaving a pet behind is a choice no survivor should have to make.

“Courageous Together” compels passersby to confront the harsh reality of domestic violence and the unique challenges survivors face when seeking safety for themselves and their pets. Viewed publicly for the first time today in Times Square, Purina will be taking the statue to various locations across the country throughout the year, stopping first at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show May 11-14, 2024, in Queens, NY.

By raising awareness, Purina hopes to help drive fundamental change to the landscape of domestic violence services for survivors with pets, so no survivor has to choose between their own safety and the safety of their pet.

“Art has an incredible way of opening minds and starting conversations and ‘Courageous Together’ is meant to do both as we continue to shine a light on the journey that domestic abuse survivors with pets face,” said Nina Leigh Krueger, CEO of Purina. “We’re proud to link arms with Kristen and Mariska who both use their respective art as a platform to drive meaningful conversations and positive change and who both fully embrace the mission of the Purple Leash Project.”

Artist Kristen Visbal, best known for her “Fearless Girl” statue in New York’s financial district, sees her latest project as another opportunity to empower women and all survivors of abuse, to stand up for themselves and each other. Like so many people who learn about the connection between domestic abuse and pets, Visbal, a pet lover, was inspired to cast survivors’ courage and partnership with their pets in this larger-than-life statue.

“I envision this statue empowering those trapped in violence to step out – along with their pets – and to begin the healing process together,” said Visbal. “Imagine the impact on domestic violence we, as supporters, could have if only we address the barriers which hinder survivor freedom!”

An innovative partnership between Purina and nonprofit RedRover, the Purple Leash Project provides resources and support to help domestic violence shelters across the US become pet-friendly emerged from Purina’s mission to strengthen the bond between pets and people, alongside RedRover’s mission to provide care and support to animals and their owners during times of crisis. Since 2019, Purina and RedRover have provided 48 Purple Leash Project grants to domestic violence shelters across the country.

For more information about the Purple Leash Project and Purina’s commitment to supporting survivors of domestic violence or to make a donation visit Purina.

Subscribe to Pet Insight