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Crisis Sheltering Services

Service agencies, hotels, and other providers of emergency housing often cannot accommodate animals. Often, this forces families to make the heartbreaking choice to surrender, or even abandon, a pet. Even worse, when domestic violence victims consider fleeing abusive homes, but there’s no safe place to house their animals (abusers sometimes threaten to harm a pet left behind), they are more likely to remain in their homes and subject themselves, their children, and their animals to continued violence. The CAART Crisis Sheltering Program helps to provide temporary shelter for the pets of people needing assistance.


How the Crisis Sheltering Program works. CAART initially is contacted by the American Red Cross, battered women's shelter, homeless shelter, or other community agency providing services to a pet-owning individual or family. A CAART volunteer gathers basic information on the animal, such as age, vaccination history, and health status. If there’s no place else for the animal to go, it is placed in the Crisis Sheltering Program.

To be placed in the Program, the animal already must be vaccinated and spayed or neutered, or the owner must agree to have it done. If the owner can't afford these health basics, CAART can help. Program volunteers will transport the animal to one of a number of local veterinarians who work with the Program. All animals receive a complete examination, vaccinations, flea control, and are microchipped and spayed or neutered if necessary. Dogs receive a heartworm test. Cats are tested for feline AIDS and leukemia.

Owners are encouraged to maintain weekly visits with their pet while they receive CAART services. If they can’t visit, then CAART requires a weekly phone call to check on the animal. This contact requirement holds the pet owner accountable, and reinforces the human/animal bond. Pets can stay in the Crisis Sheltering Program for as long as the owner is receiving emergency services or treatment. Once the humans’ emergency services end, they must pick up their animal within three days, which in most cases allows them ample time to get settled before bringing their pet back home. When an animal leaves the Program, the owner gets all medical records, microchip information, and a five-pound bag of food.

A record of success. Over the last 10 years, the CAART Emergency Sheltering Program has helped keep more than 300 families together. From 1999 through 2009, the Program helped 372 pets, and only six were surrendered or abandoned. It is a wonderful experience to see people get the care they desperately need, and then to reunite them with their furry family member and watch them be the responsible pet owner they always wanted to be!


How do you choose between shelter and a best friend? This is the impossible decision pet owners face when losing their homes.

 



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