We know from anecdotal evidence and research that pets are considered family members in the majority of pet-owning households in the United States. We also know that life comes with challenges: health crises, societal barriers, eviction, generational poverty, and major life changes.
You want to keep people and pets together through these crises, preserving families and keeping pets unnecessarily out of shelters. Here are 14 practices you can put into place at your organization right now, to support families in your community.
- Cross-train all intake and field services staff on pet support resources and schedule a minimum of one person to answer phone calls during operating hours.
- Make all materials available and accessible to non-English speakers and readers.
- Form partnerships with organizations that will help provide resources and solutions to community needs.
- Catalog the support services that are currently available in your community.
- Make sure available pet support services are readily available to the public via your website and printed materials.
- Provide financial support or help owners obtain financial support for medical emergencies that will result in pet surrender if not treated.
- Provide pet deposit assistance.
- Help owners find affordable, pet accessible housing.
- Offer emergency boarding and/or fostering to pet owners facing short-term crises (say, for up to three months).
- Pursue avenues to provide public or external facing medical care.
- Offer behavior support resources like free training or a behavior helpline for owned pets.
- Provide guidelines about appropriate enrichment toys, crates, walking equipment, etc, to maximize the chances of a successful home placement. You can sell or give away toys and other enrichment goods, as well.
- Offer food and pet supplies to vulnerable pet owners.
- Offer extended hold periods for pets whose owners are incarcerated, institutionalized, or undergoing rehabilitation or treatment.
Download the Pet Support Services: HASS Implementation Checklist here. For more information about implementing Pet Support Services in your organization, visit the Pet Support Services Toolkit in Pro Resources.