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'I feel like everybody's begging for help': Indianapolis animal shelter helps find forever homes for dogs, cats from other shelters

Heaven After Hell Rescue takes in dogs and cats from other shelters and works to find each pet their perfect, forever family.

INDIANAPOLIS — A central Indiana animal shelter's sole focus is to pull animals from other shelters and find them new homes.

Miranda Payne started Heaven After Hell Rescue in Indianapolis to rescue dogs and cats that have been abandoned or abused and end up in a shelter.

Payne's group takes in the animals and works to find each pet their perfect, forever family.

"We have groups, shelters that we work with pretty regularly that we will look at their animals that need help. They will post on social media or send an email, and we'll kind of scroll through and see what we can handle at that time. Then, we kind of decide who we can pull from there," Payne said. "Our main goal is to alleviate some of the stress on the shelters so that they don't have to euthanize for space. We do not do open intake, so we don't take strays or owner surrenders. There are rare occasions where we'll make an exception if we have a foster home that's willing, but for the most part, our animals strictly come from government facilities."

According to Payne, the number of dogs and cats at local shelters is at an all-time high.

"This year is crazy. I've never seen rescue shelters so full right now. I feel like everybody's begging for help," Payne said.

Posted by Heaven After Hell Rescue on Sunday, November 13, 2022

These animals end up in the shelters for a number of different reasons — not always because of behavioral issues.

"A lot of them are not abused. Some of them had people die, or they were doing the best they can and they couldn't make it work," Payne said. "It's not abuse, but going into a shelter situation makes it very difficult for their brains when they lived in a home."

Payne said Heaven After Hell's need for volunteers and foster families is never-ending.

"Our need for volunteers is massive because we have to take care of these guys, morning and night, every single day," Payne said. "We have usually one to two people here for a four-hour shift, and they take care of all basic needs: Give them some love, exercise, we work on training, whatever they need as far as that goes, but we also need foster homes. We also need people who are willing to come in and clean or take care of the cats and maybe not necessarily the dogs as well."

Kelsey has volunteered at the shelter since 2014.

"A friend of ours brought me out here. I was wanting to adopt a kitten, and as soon as I got out here and met these people and saw what they do for these animals, I'm totally hooked. They haven't been able to get rid of me since then," Kelsey said. "For me, it is just a place that these guys get to use as a steppingstone to finding their happily ever after."

Heaven After Hell's volunteers care for and train the dogs, and then, work with adopting families to find the perfect fit.

"We see everything from dogs that had been in a home their whole lives and just somehow ended up at a shelter, or dogs that have never been in a home and have no idea how to dog or how to be part of a family," Kelsey said. "Those are the ones that I usually get attached to the most, that I really love to help, the ones that are so unsure and so scared — giving them confidence to help them be part of a family."

Click here to learn more about becoming a foster family.

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