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This animal shelter in Utah will provide safe, short-term housing for pets whose owners are going through treatment for drug or alcohol abuse.


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The program is a team effort with Ruff Haven Crisis Center, a nonprofit that provides short-term care for pets whose owners are experiencing crises, and Odyssey House, which is Utah’s largest addiction program.

Kristina Pulsipher, executive director and co-founder of Ruff Haven, told CNN that the partnership launched nearly a month ago. Ruff Haven specializes in short-term stays, which makes it hard for owners who need to go to addiction treatment for longer than the normal 60 or 90 days that the pets usually stay. However, this new program will help so many pet owners who need to be gone for longer stays.

“Having the knowledge that their pets are safe while they’re working for themselves provides that additional feeling of Support for them to focus on recovery,” Pulsipher said.

Ruff Haven says that they will accommodate around 10-12 clients through the new partnership and the services are completely free of charge.

The shelter had been open for nearly two years and saw that there was a need that wasn’t being filled, they thought, “maybe we can keep pets with their families, keep them out of shelters.”

Ruff Haven opened with the goal of crisis sheltering for clients who were hospitalized or experiencing domestic violence and other crises. Since the pandemic, they have worked with many clients experiencing housing insecurities.

“These are people who really, what draws them is that they love giving back to the community, and know these are people in very vulnerable positions who could be them,” Pulsipher said.

Fosters take the animals for 60-90 days and “provide them all the love and care that they give to their own pets. It gives the animals time to de-stress, and not be in a boarding situation,” Pulsipher said.

Clients can even still get pictures and videos of their pets while they’re at Ruff Haven. The shelter has around 510 animals, CNN reported, and they have more than 1,500 animals through other programming like their free vaccination and microchip projects. They have 61 animals in their care, either at their facility or in their foster care program.

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