From Foster to Forever: Helping Cats & Dogs in Underserved Communities

The Humane Society of the United States estimates there are about 23 million cats and dogs living in underserved communities across the United States. Stray and homeless animals are especially common in reservation communities because animal-related resources are scarce and veterinary services are limited.

Reservation Animal Rescue (RAR), a program of PWNA, helps program partners rescue hungry or injured stray animals and stop the spread of disease these animals can carry. One of these partners helped find a home for a special kitten whose rescue journey started in the trash – Katya.

Andrea, founder of the Oglala Pet Project (OPP) in Kyle, South Dakota, first spotted the small, Russian Blue behind a community dumpster. Her first instinct was to wrap the tiny feline in a blanket she had in her car that RAR had donated to OPP and drive her to a veterinarian to be treated for pinworms.

Today, Katya lives in her forever home with Jana, a volunteer foster parent for OPP. Jana originally offered to care for the cat temporarily but soon realized she was destined to become a permanent family member. As Jana puts it, Katya has the personality of “a cat, a dog and a toddler rolled into one.” She’s playful, sociable with visitors and loves to play hide-and-seek with the family dogs.

Over the years, Jana and her husband have fostered 34 cats and kittens; Katya was only their second ‘foster failure’ – the affectionate term that’s used to describe the process of fostering an animal that winds up being adopted into the foster family. Foster volunteers like Jana receive food and treats donated through RAR’s partners to help reduce the cost of fostering animals, which in turn helps them find forever homes for more animals.

Since adopting Katya, Jana has fostered many more kittens, now adopted into loving homes of their own. She credits OPP for helping to find so many animals homes and shared that while OPP’s adoption process includes a lengthy vetting process, they work hard to minimize the possibility of adopters later giving up the animals. Jana also said pets offer entertainment, comfort and joy when you need it most. She’s a longtime advocate for animal welfare, as is OPP and the rest of PWNA’s animal-serving partners.

This past year proved especially challenging for our RAR partners who, despite the shortage of both funding and resources brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, continued to serve their communities. Animals will always need our help, and your donation can help take one more animal from the streets to a fur-ever home.

Are you considering adding a furry friend to your family this year? If so, Jana has one important piece of advice: “Adopt, don’t shop!”

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