Providing Pet Fostering to Those Needing Treatment
Wind whipped around the buildings in downtown Tulsa this past November, dropping temperatures into the teens.
Richard and his two dogs, Minnie and Misty, were trying to take shelter in Richard’s flimsy tent.
Richard, homeless and without family, other than his two loyal dogs,
Had been welcomed into Tulsa’s homeless shelters for the night—but not his dogs.
He would not abandon his dogs to the cold, even to seek shelter for himself.
As temperatures plunged, Richard’s blankets were inadequate for the cold. By morning his toes were red, then white. Frostbite!
By the time Richard sought medical assistance, gangrene had set in.
Fortunately, Richard’s case manager was aware of a new nonprofit in town,
Pause 4 Paws, and Richard’s dogs were taken into foster care while Richard was hospitalized.
Richard ended up losing half his right foot, but not his canine family members.
Pause4Paws provides short-term, emergency pet fostering services to individuals experiencing homelessness, mental illness, or addictions who need medical, mental health or substance abuse treatment and have no other resources for pet care.
I joined Pause4Paws in September 2019 as executive director and have found the work to be immensely rewarding.
It is wonderful to be able to calm a person’s fear that they will have to choose between their health and their pet.
Their relief is palpable when I assure them that their pet will be lovingly cared for in a home setting and promptly.
Returned to them when they are released from the hospital or treatment center.
“I reached out to Pause4Paws in December 2019.
When I made the muchneeded decision to seek treatment for an ongoing battle with alcohol abuse,” said Amanda.
“My main concern was who would care for my dog, Dolly.
The Hope is Alive program I was entering recommended Pause4Paws.
Because of Pause 4 Paws I was able to focus 100 percent on working my sobriety.”
It was for people like Amanda that Pause 4 Paws was started.
Members of the Mental Health Association Oklahoma Recovery Services.
Committee found time and again that individuals with mental health and substance abuse problems, who needed and wanted services,
were not able to access them because they had a pet and no one to care for the pet while they received treatment.
“We were particularly moved when we found out about ‘Sam,’ a man who lost his.L
ife because he refused to leave his two dogs to seek medical treatment for his diabetes,”
says Katy Inhofe, board president of Pause4Paws, and one of the original MHAO board members who spearheaded the final project.
“We came up with the idea of a short-term pet foster program.”
After much research and collaboration with numerous social service agencies and animal welfare organizations, Pause4Paws, a stand-alone nonprofit, was born.
“Pause4Paws is committed to reuniting pets and their owners, for we believe that the bond between and pet and their owner is an important part of health and healing,” Katy said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness,
lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners.
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