KC shelter’s new program reuniting struggling owners with their pets

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new program is helping people in crisis during the pandemic keep their pets. KC Pet Project recently launched Home Away From Home to foster pets until they can get back on their feet. 

The shelter launched a Keep ‘Em Together program a couple months into the pandemic to try to help provide financial resources to struggling pet owners. But what they found many people just needed was time. 

MariAnn McCurry has had her Jack Russell Terrier, Sophia, since college. She was a comfort to her and her 3-year-old daughter at the start of the pandemic.

“Everything just seemed like my whole  world was crashing in one week. I got COVID I got flu I lost my job,” McCurry said.

When her symptoms got more severe as did her financial situation, she was forced to make a tough decision, to take her back to KC Pet Project where she’d adopted her seven years earlier. 

“I thought I would never see her again,” McCurry said.

That’s when they told her about Home Away from Home. 

“This program just started because we saw such a huge need in our community. People who were wanting to keep their animals but didn’t really have any other options,” Tori Fugate, KC Pet Project Chief Communications Officer, said. 

14 families are now fostering 26 pets for people who have become ill during the pandemic, lost jobs, been evicted, or are seeking shelter from domestic violence. 

“They took care of her and I was able to get updates and pictures of her and Facetime her,” McCurry said.

Sophia is now back home.

“The moment she saw me, she ran to me like nothing ever left,” McCurry said.

It is a new home McCurry was able to get into in the 90 days Sophia was away. 

“Thank God for that program, because once that program was in place it gave me a chance to get back on my feet, get better, seek job help, get financially stable,” she said. 

KC Pet Project just hired two full time social workers who will help connect other struggling pet owners with resources as they work toward more happy reunions.

KC Pet Project plans to continue this program after the pandemic, but say they could use more willing foster families. They will take care of a lot of the financial aspects like food and vet services, and just hope you can give those pets some needed affection. 

Interested families and individuals who would like to foster as part of this program can sign up here.

Pet owners who qualify to apply for the program can do so here.

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