Roanoke Valley SPCA offers fostering program to help owners who have fallen on hard times

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ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The Roanoke Valley SPCA has a special foster program aiming to keep pets with their owners as much as possible.

“The Transitional Foster program is really designed for individuals who have a need for their pet to be cared for somewhere outside of their house for a period of time or they’re not going to be in a house for a period of time,” said Denise Hayes, CEO of Roanoke Valley SPCA.

The Transitional Foster Program has been around for about three years and is intended for people who cannot take care of their pets in their own homes due to certain circumstances. Examples include:

  • People who have been rendered homeless through a tragedy, such as a fire or flooding
  • Those dealing with or are escaping a domestic violence situation
  • People who are or will be temporarily hospitalized with no way to care for their pet

“We can temporarily assist with providing care for that pet while [the owners] get back up on their feet again,” Hayes said. “That way their pet can be reunited with them after that transitional situation.”

The program is designed to help owners for up to six weeks at a time.

“It’s not for a family going on vacation, or things of that nature. They are folks who may have a medical need — a temporary medical need — where they’re having surgery and they’re going to be in the hospital for a few days and they don’t have somebody who can come in to care their pet,” Hayes explained. “Or folks who might be experiencing a temporary homelessness situation, where they’re moving from one place to the next, but where they’re sort of in transition where they don’t have a place that accepts their pet. “

Those interested in the Transitional Foster Program can call the Roanoke Valley SPCA to see if they qualify. The pet has to be able to be handled by staff members and fosters. The pet owners will have to give ownership over to the Roanoke Valley SPCA for a brief period of time, so the pet can receive medical care if needed. If the pet is not altered, it will be spayed and neutered before returning to the owners.

The animals will not stay at the Roanoke Valley SPCA, but will live with a volunteer foster until the owners are ready to house and care for their animals again.

“Keeping those pets and those families together is really important. Families include our pet,” Hayes said. “It’s really hard to think about getting better when you’re in a hospital situation if you know that when you get home, your beloved dog or cat isn’t going to be there waiting for you.”

Hayes recommends calling the Roanoke Valley SPCA ahead of time if you know you may need this program in the future, such as if you’re about to have surgery and will be in the hospital for a long period of time. This will allow the organization plenty of time to line up a foster family and find the best fit for your pet.

“Obviously, emergency situations — like a fire or we’ve also helped in some domestic violence situations — those are emergency situations. Folks should always call,” she said. “We’ve had some really great luck with local veterinarians who have stepped up to assist in that situation, as well, when we needed to make an immediate placement and we didn’t have a foster family lined up yet.”

To learn more about their Transitional Foster Program, contact the Roanoke Valley SPCA at (540) 339-9247.

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