We are the proud recipients of an "Innovations in Foster Care" grant from Maddie's Fund.

Our Transitional Community Foster Care program is unlike most conceptions of foster care for pets.  Rather than providing care for stray and shelter pets, we provide temporary care for owned pets, to prevent them from ultimately having to be relinquished by their families.

The program utilizes foster care to facilitate pet retention among homeless and at ­risk pet owners by providing temporary housing and care for pets whose owners are either hospitalized, are enrolled in in­ patient drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation, or who are placed in transitional housing prior to obtaining long­term housing. The TCFC program provides housing in foster homes, food, collars, tags, licensing, comprehensive medical care including vaccines, parasite prevention, spay/neuter, care of medical problems, and behavior evaluation, modification, and training, with visitation opportunities for owners when appropriate. Pets are returned to their owners once they are in a position to care for them again.

We recognize the many benefits that pet ownership confers, especially for individuals who suffer from mental and other health problems. Numerous data driven and peer reviewed studies show the benefits of pet ownership for individuals experiencing homelessness, including more structured daily routines, increased social interactions and bonds, and decreased drug use. We see first­hand how knowing that they have a source of unconditional love, and a creature who is reliant upon them for their own welfare serves as a powerful motivator for our clients to succeed in efforts to improve their condition.

Through our clinics, we have cultivated the trust of clients from a demographic that is frequently wary of law enforcement and authority, and that is historically underserved. As a result of this trust, we receive requests for assistance from numerous clients for whom pet ownership is a barrier to receiving care including shelter, inpatient drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation, and hospitalization for acute and emergent medical crises. Our clients often face the choice of obtaining care for themselves, and giving up a beloved pet to the local shelters or the streets, or remaining on the streets until they are incapacitated by their conditions, and are involuntarily incarcerated or hospitalized. In both situations, the pets suffer, and the community is forced to absorb the pets into already overburdened municipal shelters and rescue organizations.

Again, we are honored by the trust that our clients place in us to care for their beloved family members, and consider each opportunity to foster an opportunity to help make our community more compassionate, and healthy.

If you are interested in being part of this new program, and offering a temporary home to one of our fosters, please contact our foster coordinator at foster@4rfstreetvets.org.

Thank you, Maddie's Fund!