Displaced Animals Given Continued Care
PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- When Carol Nostrand was in between homes, she faced a bigger decision than the cost of rent. The friend’s home where she was temporarily staying did not have a fence. That meant “her baby,” Raven, which she adopted from the SPCA four years ago, couldn’t stay with the family.
“I would have had to put her up for adoption, and that really wasn’t an option for me because my dog is my life,” Nostrand said.
Fortunately, instead of returning to the local SPCA, Raven went to the Pinellas County Humane Society and stayed, for free, under its continued care program. The program helps owners who find themselves temporarily unable to care for their pet, but don’t want to give it up or give it away.
“Everybody has bumps in the road of life,” said Twila Cole, Humane Society of Pinellas County spokeswoman. “That’s the way it goes. Some people can handle it on their own, others need assistance. And we’re here to take on the task of pets so it’s one less thing they have to worry about until they get their own life back in order.”
Illness, family crisis and financial hardship are among the reasons owners find themselves taking advantage of this program, which is funded entirely through the generosity of the community. Continued care animals are kept in a separate area in the facility than other animals, so there’s no mistake which animals are up for adoption, and which ones have homes to return to.
During a recent visit, four dogs and a cat were enjoying shelter, food, water, grooming, and for some, medical care, until their owners can pick them up. Among the reasons for their stay: one family was dealing with the crisis of their son being abducted, another owner was caring for an elderly parent, and another was committed to a mental health facility.
The typical stay for continued care is 30 days. Nostrand remembers that time, and the difficulty in abiding to one of the rules: not visiting the pet, so it doesn’t become confused as to why it’s not going home with the owner.
“I was worried about her,” Nostrand admitted. “So I called frequently to check up on her.”
In the past two years, the program has taken in 45 animals. Dogs outnumber cats four-to-one. The goal, of course, is to keep families together. Cole calls accomplishing that, “perfect.”
“It’s the happiest day ever, when an owner is able to come back and take pets home. It’s the happiest. That’s what we’re here for,” Cole said.
For Nostrand and Raven, reuniting was a thrilling day, so was returning to a new home, complete with a big fenced in yard -- where Raven has made her own “special spot” under a jungle gym slide.
Nostrand said the peace of mind the program brought her allowed her to take care of the other stressful details of the move.
“I really did know my dog was in really good hands,” she said.
To find out more about this program, visit humanesocietyofpinellas.org.
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