In February 2021, Rescue Village launched a new program to help individuals and families in need during difficult times. The new Community Guardian program takes in pets on a temporary basis for people in need of assistance that are experiencing hardships, such as hospitalization, drug or alcohol rehabilitation, or eviction.
“We recognized the need for this program during the pandemic,” said Andrea Giorgio, Intake and Rescue Manager at Rescue Village. “People were being furloughed or losing their job and the entire animal welfare industry was seeing the increased need for opening other avenues to help people.” Designed to keep pets out of the shelter and with their owners, the Community Guardian program provides assistance to anyone in need, not just those in Geauga County.
The intake of these pets is assessed on a case-by-case basis, either through direct contact with the individual, or through a local service agency or family representative. “Many senior citizens will refuse medical treatment because they have no options for pet care or simply can’t afford boarding their pet while they are in the hospital,” said Giorgio. “A program like this helps relieve that issue and gives them a cost-free option along with peace of mind.”
When the pets are brought to Rescue Village, they receive a medical exam to ensure our clinic team has a good baseline for care and to identify any medical or behavioral issues. The pets are also vaccinated, spayed/neutered, and microchipped. Community Guardian volunteers then take these pets into their homes and treat them as one of their family members. Pets in the program stay in foster homes for at least 30 days to upwards of 90 days if needed to allow the pet owner to continue managing their situation. This gives them peace of mind knowing their pet is safe and sound.
One of Rescue Village’s proudest moments of the program was helping a woman who had been evicted and was living in her car with her cat. Being able to witness the reunion of the owner with their pet is overall the best part, Giorgio said. Happy tears abound amongst the owner and our staff when they see their pet again after having overcome their struggles. Knowing we have saved one more animal from needing to be rehomed while helping a family or individual keep their furry family member makes it all worthwhile.
Thanks to the support of our community and the Community Guardian volunteers, this crucial new program at Rescue Village allows us to help more people and animals in dire need.