Friends with dogs in a field during covid wearing masks

Pawster Nashville was born in the summer of 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. As news of the pandemic’s economic consequences filled the headlines, a group of Nashville residents began to wonder how an economic downturn might affect pet owners. With rising unemployment, housing instability, evictions, and lack of access to usual services, what options did pet owners have?

So we asked around.

Nashville has a strong community of animal welfare organizations, and we wanted to know what they were already doing. We learned that Nashville has a great infrastructure for free and discounted veterinary care, pet food banks, and behavior training for pets. There is even a group of different organizations who work together to help Nashville’s cats and dogs, called the SAFE Coalition. Nashville cares about its pets.

But there was a missing piece:

Short-term foster care when pet owners are in crisis.

We learned that when pet owners are unable to care for their pets temporarily, they don’t have many options other than surrendering their pet to a shelter or rescue. When someone decides to leave a domestic violence situation, what happens to their pet? When the landlord evicts them and they can’t find pet-friendly housing, what are they supposed to do? What happens to their dog when they end up in the hospital for weeks or months?

Nashville needed a new organization to focus exclusively on helping pets and owners stay together through crisis. By placing cats and dogs in loving foster homes until the pet’s owner is back on their feet, we could give pet owners an alternative to surrendering their pets.

As soon as we heard this, the message resonated with one of our founders. His neighbor, Tom, had recently surrendered his dog due to personal medical issues.

Her name is Lacy. We’ll let her take the story from here:

Lacy’s Story

Sad brown dog Lacy walking

“My name is Lacy. I am Tom’s dog, and he is my family. I love living with Tom, because he has the time to give me all the attention I need. We’re always together. Tom and I like to walk around the neighborhood, because we know everyone. Roger and Mary live two doors down. I like them because they are older and move slower than most people. But sometimes I like to play, too. My friend Daisy lives next door, and we play in her backyard sometimes. Tom and I walk all over the neighborhood, and then we come home and visit with everyone in our apartment building. People are always moving in and out, so I have lots of friends.

But one day, Tom got sick.

He wasn’t able to take care of me like he used to. After a few days, he told me we were going on a trip. He seemed sad.

We got in a strange car that I didn’t know, and we went to a big building that I didn’t recognize. There were lots of people there, and they were nice, but something didn’t seem right. Tom was upset, and I didn’t know why.

Dogs in shelter kennels

Then Tom handed my leash to a lady I didn’t know. She was nice and tried to give me treats, but I didn’t want any. Tom was crying, and I didn’t know why. When I tried to nuzzle him, he walked away. That always used to make him feel better. What did I do wrong?

They took me to a room where there were lots of dogs I didn’t know. Some of them barked, and some of them whined, and some of them just laid on the floor looking sad. Why did they look so sad? Did their family leave them here, too?

I tried barking for Tom, and I tried whining, but he was gone.”

Lacy’s story is true, along with hundreds of other dogs and cats who are surrendered in Nashville each year.
Some will be adopted. Some won’t. But their stories don’t have to end here.

You can help dogs and cats like Lacy stay with their owners.

Cat giving high five

You can be a Pawster Foster. When you volunteer to foster a cat or dog, you have the chance to help them stay with their forever family. Become a Pawster Foster today.

Dog sticking head out car window

You can be a Pet Connector who coordinates foster stays, or a Pet Chauffeur who transports pets to and from foster homes, vet appointments and grooming sessions. Become a Volunteer Here.

Puppy sleeping in arms

You can give to Pawster Nashville. Your gift will reunite cats and dogs like Lacy with their forever families. Become a Pawster Provider here.

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