We are lucky to have many options for bringing pets into our lives throughout the region. Especially non-profits that provide the opportunity to foster and adopt animals.
I think it is terrific that there are several organizations in our community working to help animals: to keep them alive, safe, and find loving homes.
Homeward Animal Shelter is one incredible option.
Founded in 1966, Homeward Animal Shelter is a local and community-funded, non-profit animal shelter. Its mission statement is: “Rescue. Shelter. Protect. Rehome.” And Homeward is the only physical shelter in the area that takes in both cats and dogs.
In addition to their shelter space, they also rely on foster homes to provide love and care for 50-70% of the animals they are working to place. They provide all the supplies, advice, and veterinary services. Meanwhile the foster families open their hearts and homes to care for homeless pets as they wait to be adopted.
I only recently realized that Homeward Animal Shelter had worked hard to end the euthanization of adoptable pets in the FM-area pounds. They achieved this goal in 2012, and they have continued to play a significant role in preventing the euthanasia of adoptable pets in our community every year since then.
For the cat lovers like me:
We have two cats in our home, both adopted. So if you are like our family and have a soft spot for cats, this may interest you. Homeward Animal Shelter offers two unique programs for our feline friends, which Executive Director, Tasha Haug, explained.
“We are the only organization in the community with a program designed to take in feline leukemia-positive cats and kittens. While this diagnosis usually affects the animal’s lifespan, they can still live a good life, although they can only live with other Feline Leukemia-positive cats and kittens.”
They don’t just help house cats.
“We also find homes for feral cats through our ‘Barn Buddies’ program. Through this program, we take in feral cats, vaccinate and spay/neuter them, and place them on farms and in shops where they can control rodent problems.”
How to Help
You can volunteer, and kids can, too!
There are opportunities for regular dog-walking for older teens and adults. Additionally, there are options for adults to assist with adoptions and fostering, along with dog and cat socializing. How great is that?
I especially love the Junior Volunteer Program at Homeward Animal Shelter, where kids aged 8 to 16 years old and an accompanying adult play with kittens and help them socialize. It’s a fun way for kids to give back to our community and learn responsibility.
Some kids practice skills by reading to the cats, as Haug explained when we discussed the various volunteer opportunities.
“I love to see our Junior Volunteers interact with the kittens and cats. Some of them bring books to read to them. I see parents and children have such a wonderful time together. Some families with more than one child have the children take turns coming to volunteer.
All of our volunteers are a vital part of our organization. Staff provides the daily care of the animals, but it is the volunteers who walk and socialize dogs, socialize cats, and assist in the office as part of the adoption process.”
Interested in volunteering? Check out the Homeward Animal Shelter website for more specific information.
Don’t have time but still want to help?
I get it. Moms are busy. If you find yourself in a busier season of life, you have options.
Like basically all non-profits, Homeward Animal Shelter relies on donations to fulfill its work. Monetary donations are always appreciated and allow them to invest in the most urgent needs of the animals.
Veterinary care is a significant ongoing expense for the organization. With an average of 100+ animals in their care at any time, trips to local veterinary clinics for basic care, things like ear infections and eye issues, are frequent. In some cases, for more serious health issues, animals need a visit to the emergency veterinary clinic. The quality veterinary care provided by their many partners adds up.
While gifts may be designated for veterinary care, general donations are very much appreciated and support the overall operating expenses of the shelter.
Like for kids, consistent love and care change the lives of animals, too!
Haug shared the story of Mallory, a one-year-old yellow lab, with me.
“When she came to the shelter, she was so timid that I had to carry her to her kennel because she was unsure about walking through doorways. Within a week, thanks to the love and care from staff and volunteers, she was like a different dog. I could see it in her eyes and how her ears perked up when I talked to her. This is just one example of the amazing resiliency I have seen in dogs and cats as they overcome various challenges.”