During COVID-19, there was a surge of residents who fostered or adopted homeless companion cats and dogs but now that Americans have accepted the coronavirus and its variants as the new normal, the rate at which people are opening their homes to pets has slowed, according to Dallas Pets Alive (DPA) data.
“People think that by going back to work, they can’t foster a pet but you absolutely can because I know that the animal would rather be sitting at home alone if you’re gone 8 hours than the alternative, which is euthanasia at a shelter,” said Kaleigh Betts, founder of DPA.
In addition to finding homes for pets who are out of options and need second chances, DPA focuses on rehoming and keeping pets with their companion pet owners as a family.
“If somebody is in a situation where they are considering surrendering their animal to a shelter, there are lots of options other than a shelter,” said Betts. “We have a rehoming program here at DPA where we help individuals and families that need to rehome their pets in a safe way by putting the pet on our website and marketing them.”
DPA also facilitates temporary boarding for the pets while their owners seek short term assistance with a goal of making all of North Texas into a no-kill shelter zone.
“We have a lot of people that we assist from women who are moving into a domestic violence shelter that doesn’t allow pets to people experiencing homelessness who are looking to get back on their feet and just people who are having to choose between feeding their family or feeding their pet,” Betts said. “They shouldn’t have to make that choice. So, we have resources available to help them feed everybody in their family.”
The program is called Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender (PASS).
“It’s designed to meet the needs of the low-income community here in north Texas,” Betts explained.
DPA works with six filter partners in North Texas that are shelters aiming for a 90% live release rate, which means animals leave the shelter with a positive outcome as opposed to being euthanized.
“We are interacting with them all the time and if they have an animal they know we can help, they call us,” said Betts. “We tend to get asked for the immediate medically needy ones. Several of our shelters are really good about communicating. They’re posting on their Facebook pages. They’re emailing us. It’s become a really great partnership and relationship with our shelters because they know that we will take in those that they just don’t have the time, space or capacity to help.”
Finances are always a challenge for DPA. While adoption fees provide some income, it’s largely grants and private donations that are keeping their doors open.
“We absolutely need volunteers,” Betts said. “We’re primarily volunteer run. We only have three staff members here. We love our volunteers but many are going back to work and slowing down their volunteerism. We would love to have more volunteers step up to the plate and help us with these homeless pets here in north Texas.”
Donations can be made through DPA’s website.