he Kentucky Humane Society (KHS) has launched a crisis fostering program to help pet owners who need temporary housing for their beloved cats and dogs.
KHS’ Safety Net Foster Program aims to help keep families and their pets together in times of crisis and financial hardship.
“Our new Safety Net Foster Program helps pet owners who need temporary fostering for their animals, such as when owners are facing eviction, rehabilitation, hospitalization, or loss of housing,” said Shelby Schulz, KHS Pet Resource Manager.
“Previously, owners would come to the shelter as their last resort, feeling like the only thing that they could do is to give up their beloved pet. Now, thanks to the Safety Net Foster Program, KHS can match owned pets with foster families and give owners the time they need to address their hardship and keep their families together.”
KHS is one of just 18 animal shelters selected to participate in the Arizona State University/Virginia Tech Maddie’s Nationwide Fostering Study. As part of the study, shelters receive extensive training on how to implement and manage safety net fostering programs along with support for shelter staff that are directly assisting pet-owning families that are experiencing temporary hardship. Together with the research team, KHS will collect data about their Safety Net Foster Program, which will allow for a better understanding of the needs of the pet-owning community and contributing to innovative, evidence-based practices in animal sheltering that are keeping people and their pets together.
To date, 11 families have enrolled in KHS’ Safety Net Foster Program. Local pet families who are in need of this program can apply for assistance directly with KHS. Accepted applicants receive 30-days of crisis care through safety net fosters and more time if they qualify. All applications are reviewed using a needs assessment in correlation to the capacity to provide care for the animals through available foster homes. Once enrolled, pet owners work together with the Safety Net Foster Program team to schedule their pet’s entrance into the program.
Safety Net Foster Program case managers check-in weekly with owners to see how they’re doing, coordinate updates between the foster and the owner, and connect owners to other community resources if needed. There are no costs associated with this program for the pet owner. KHS also provides any medical support to the pet if needed during its stay with a foster family. Pet families in need of these services can apply and learn more at www.kyhumane.org/help or by calling the KHS Pet Help Line at 502-509-4738.
“The Safety Net Foster Program is a critical resource for pet families in our community. Pets are part of the family – and while there are resources for people in crisis, there are often few opportunities for pets to be included in the plan for overcoming housing insecurity. With the ongoing eviction crisis and financial impacts of COVID-19, programs like the Safety Net Foster Program are needed more than ever,” said Schulz.
Pet owners needing 30-90 days of temporary care for their pet can apply for the Safety Net Foster Program at www.kyhumane.org/help. Any questions about the program can be directed to [email protected].
Foster Homes Needed
“The Safety Net Foster Program is only made possible through the generosity of our foster network and available foster homes. Through this initiative, volunteer foster families can help pet owners experiencing crisis. It’s an incredible way to directly support vulnerable pets and the people who love them,” said Kayla Saylor, KHS Foster Manager.
Foster families receive weekly check-ins with the KHS team to ensure they are supported in their safety net fostering experience. KHS provides all the necessary supplies for the care of fostered pets, and fostering commitments range from 30-90 days. Pet owners and their foster families do not communicate with each other during the program, and instead, all communication along with program coordination is conducted by Safety Net Foster Program case managers. Those interested in fostering as part of this program may sign up at www.kyhumane.org/foster.