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New IACS shelter diversion program in need of volunteers

The biggest demand is for homeowners who are willing to temporarily foster pets while families get back on their feet.

INDIANAPOLIS — What happens to a family's pets if they find themselves suddenly out of a place to live because of an unfortunate event, like a house fire or an eviction?

In these situations, many families are forced to give away the family cat or dog. But a new program from Indianapolis Animal Care Services is working to keep families and their pets together.

Carrie Upchurch has been a foster for local animal shelters for years and knows how important the resource is. Her family has five dogs they've adopted.

That's why she's excited to spread the word about a new program by IACS called Indy CARES.

"To get the help from an organization that can say, 'Hey, we can place them into a loving foster home that will literally keep them safe for you while you figure it out,'" said Upchurch. 

As Ashley Temple with IACS explained, Indy CARES is a program to divert those pets from shelters into temporary homes.

"The vast majority of people who surrender [pets] do not want to be in the position that they're in. And it just felt like there was a gap in the services that our city was providing to these pet owners," Temple said.

Temple said that right now the biggest demand is for homeowners who are willing to temporarily foster pets while families get back on their feet.

"We need foster homes desperately," Temple said. "And we can only help as many as we have foster homes for, so the more people who are willing to open up their home to a dog, a cat ... it's just animals that we are able to keep out of the shelter and reunite with their family in the long term."

Temple said IACS gets a request for this kind of specific need at least once per day.

"Before literally their only options were surrender or homeless with their pet. And that just that's not a solution. So, we're hoping that the more fosters we get, the more families we can help the more animals we can keep out of the shelter," Temple said.

One of the key aspects of the cats and dogs that need fostering is they have been in homes, so they're used to being around families.

The time commitment for a safety net foster ranges from 30 to 60 days. There are no costs associated with this program for the pet's family or the safety net foster. IACS provides all necessary supplies, as well as any medical care the pet needs during its stay with a foster family.

To apply to foster a pet, click here.

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