Fostering Animal Adoptions in Reservation Communities

October is “Adopt a Dog Month,” and it’s a good time to explore how PWNA’s Reservation Animal Rescue (RAR) program supports animal rescue and rehabilitation partners on the reservations.

RAR offers pet supplies and grants to animal-serving organizations in tribal communities throughout our Northern Plains and Southwest service areas. Our partners are all similar in that they operate on minimal funding yet yield maximum results. They serve their communities without fanfare and have a vigorous volunteer network to help minimize turning animals in need away.

Most of our reservation partners and grant recipients rely on their volunteers to contend with the overpopulation of stray and homeless dogs and cats in remote reservation communities. This year, RAR has funded $88,000 in grants so far to support 10 different partners in their efforts to foster healthy animals and healthy communities.

The ongoing pandemic has created unprecedented challenges in U.S. communities but more so in Indian reservation communities that were resource-deprived even before COVID-19. For rescue groups, springtime would typically be accompanied by spay and neuter clinics, but communities with shelter-in-place orders or limits on large gatherings delayed these clinics to adhere to safety guidelines and reduce potential spread of the coronavirus. Unfortunately, this also means an increased number of strays were having litters.

Tuba City Humane Society, one of PWNA’s grant recipients serving the Navajo and Hopi reservations, reported an increase in their intakes during the pandemic. The shelter generally intakes about 400 animals a year but indicated their intake had reached 278 in the first six months of 2020.  

On a more positive note, the pandemic created an unexpected surge in animal fostering and adoptions. About 70 percent of this year’s RAR grant recipients rely on foster volunteers to help rehabilitate, socialize and find the perfect home for these vulnerable companions. For our animal welfare partners, foster care is still an essential part of their circle of care.

Brenda, a foster mom supporting the Oglala Pet Project in South Dakota, shared why she’s committed to fostering animals of the Pine Ridge Reservation:

“I love fostering for OPP! They have very high standards of homes that the foster animals go to.  They ask many questions of the adopter to make sure it’s the right fit, the right time and the right environment for each foster animal just to name a few. As a foster this means a LOT!  As a foster mom, I get attached to them just like they are one of my own. I know I’m just a ‘hotel’ for the foster until it finds its forever home. It means the world to me that OPP finds a great forever home that is committed to have the animal for its lifetime, which is a long commitment.  I put my heart and soul into taking care of every foster animal that I have in my care and they take part of my heart with them when they leave. Knowing that the forever family is willing to take on that long commitment, I feel better that I haven’t let that animal down. Every animal deserves to know it is truly part of the family and be treated as part of the family.”

If you’re looking for a new furry family member this month, we encourage you to check your local rescue shelters to see if there are pets available for adoption. Please also consider donating to RAR if you’d like to support a rescue organization helping animals in need in underserved communities.

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