New joint program cares for pets with owners hospitalized by COVID-19

Due to an expected influx of hospitalized pet owners during the COVID-19 pandemic, several local animal services and shelters have come together to introduce the PETS (Pet Emergency Temporary Shelter) program.

The program was organized by the non-profit Fido Niagara and is a collaborative effort among the Lincoln County Humane Society (LCHS), Niagara Health and Niagara EMS. The program’s purpose is to remove barriers for pet owners in accessing healthcare, and also prevent animal neglect while a pet owner is hospitalized or unable to provide care for their pet at home.

“We recognize the importance of pets in people’s lives and we don’t want pet care to be a barrier to receiving personal care,” said Jessica Cohen, founder of Fido Niagara.

The program provides up to 14 days of boarding at LCHS or fostering by Fido Niagara, depending on the animal’s circumstances and program space availability. Pets may include dogs, cats, birds, or other domestic animals.

“As a deemed essential service in Niagara, we have freed our shelter’s capacity in order to step up and do our part to help our community,” said Kevin Strooband, executive director of LCHS.

Health care staff may request the service by calling the LCHS at 905-682-0767, as pet owners will require a referral from hospital staff. Pet owners are encouraged to place their pets with friends or family prior to seeking assistance through the PETS program.

The LCHS is asking for donations from the public to support the care they provide to animals, especially for this new program.

“During this difficult time our important, essential work continues and we rely on the generosity of our community to help us care for vulnerable animals,” said Strooband

Pet owners are encouraged to complete a Care and Ownership Instructions card now, for each animal. LCHS and Fido Niagara also recommend that instructions and the card be posted in a visible location, such as the refrigerator at home and in one’s wallet. These cards may be printed at home and can be downloaded from the Lincoln County Humane Society website by going to lchs.ca/covid-19-pet-care-card. An online fillable form can be found elswhere on the site. Owners may also provide the information over the phone to Fido Niagara by calling 416-806-7102, and a completed card will be mailed to them.

Media inquiries may be directed to Kevin Strooband, Executive Director, Lincoln County Humane Society by calling 905-682-0767, extension 508 or emailing him at kstrooband@lchs.ca.

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