ARK (Animals Receiving Kindness)

ARK (Animals Receiving Kindness)

Why build the ARK?

Individuals or families facing domestic violence often have pets that experience abuse as well.

Young girl and her pup

A verified need exists at First Step of Michigan. In a 2010 survey of callers to our 24-hour helpline, 50% of victims seeking shelter said their family pet had been abused or threatened. 25% indicated that concern for their pet’s safety prevented them from leaving the abusive situation for fear that their animals would be injured or worse.

Research has shown 62-76% of animal cruelty in the home occurs in front of children. Children often intervene to protect their mothers and pets from being battered. Some children may even allow themselves to be victimized to save their pets from being harmed or killed. (Edelson et al., 2003)

The ARK will be an onsite pet sanctuary available to residents of First Step. An indoor and outdoor play area will allow families to spend time with their animal companions and begin the healing process.

The Mission & Vision

The mission of the ARK is to support the clients of First Step by providing a safe haven for their beloved pets on the property of the First Step domestic violence shelter. This service enables our clients to leave the abusive environment and begin the emotional healing process with the loving support of their pets close by and the peace of mind knowing their treasured animal companions are also safely removed from the abusive environment.

The ARK will be a spacious, heated building adjacent to the temporary housing facilities for families staying at First Step. The facility will include:

  • Four dog kennels approximately 4’ wide X 10’ long, each with access to a fenced run area.
  • Three cat cabins in an approximately 18’ X 18’ room containing a variety of cat condos and toys. Each cat will be housed in a large “play pen” cage.
  • A quarantine room for a new arrival animal to stay in until it has been examined by a veterinarian.
  • An inside play area for family interaction with pets.

Next Steps

Currently, the ARK is a vision. We need your help to make it a reality.

Building the ARK

$150,000 in capital expenditures are needed for facility construction.


Although First Step residents will be required to care for and clean up after their pet throughout their stay, an estimated $20,000 annual operating expenses will be needed for heat, electricity, water, pet care supplies, food and veterinarian expenses. ARK Interior 08.30.16-1

Veterinarian Partners

Licensed partners are needed to provide low-cost or free examinations, vaccinations and medications for the welfare of the animal and to enable it to live in community with other animals and families. In rarer cases, a vet partner may be needed to provide low-cost or free emergency treatment of injuries sustained from abuse.

Friends of the ARK

Volunteers will be needed in many areas to assist with ongoing needs such as general maintenance, deep cleaning, pet care education and repairs.


View the ARK Appeal Letter
Download the ARK Brochure

For more information about the First Step ARK, please contact:

Ailsa Blunk, / 248.719.1291

Charitable donations may be mailed to:
First Step ARK, 44567 Pinetree Drive, Plymouth, MI 48170

Please make checks out to First Step & note ‘For ARK’ on memo line.

First Step is a tax exempt charitable organization with a 501(c)(3) designation under IRS regulations.
Contributions to First Step are tax deductible.