Animal Rescue League offers foster housing for pets with owners facing housing instability

For residents at the risk of losing housing, the Animal Rescue League of Boston has a plan to keep owners and pets paired together through tough times.

Residents who may be forced to vacate their homes as a result of the state’s eviction moratorium expiration five days ago will be able to register their pets for temporary housing assistance, the ARL announced Thursday. The program is free of charge.

“People are sometimes forced to give up pets. That’s something that’s always been on our radar,” said Aimee Christian, vice president of animal welfare and veterinary medicine at ARL. “That’s been increasingly apparent to us since housing stability could get a lot worse because of the pandemic.”

Predicting an influx of pet owners at risk of losing housing once the moratorium expired, the rescue league imagined ways to keep owners and their animals together through the pandemic.

Instead of bringing animals space to shelters, the rescue league set up a program in which volunteer foster families will take care of a pet for up to four months. During that time, the pet’s owners will be allowed to schedule confidential bi-weekly check-ins with their pet.

“Housing is really tricky when it comes to animals,” Christian said. “But we believe people and pets should never be separated.”

Any owners experiencing housing instability are eligible for the program, which will be determined during a phone call to the ARL’s admissions office. Once the owner is approved and their pet is brought to the designated shelter, the pet will undergo basic medical screenings for two days. Pets will also undergo a behavioral screening to ensure they are matched with the ideal foster family.

The program is open to residents who live in the eastern part of the state, including the Cape and Islands.

Currently, the program is designed for companion animals such as cats, dogs, and smaller pets. If larger animals are brought in — “if someone has an alpaca or something” — that may change, Christian said.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Christina said.

The three ARL admissions office locations can be reached at:

  • Boston (617) 426-9170 x140
  • Dedham (617) 426-9170 x404
  • Brewster (617) 426-9170 x305

Matt Berg can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mattberg33.

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