Foster care for pets aims to help families facing rising rents in Atlanta

Shamiya Johnson and her mom Chavandia believe nothing is more important than family. “You want your family to be treated the same, and to be treated like you would treat them,” Shamiya said. Bella the cat is part of their family. But last year when they had to move, they were afraid they’d have to leave their cat behind.

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“In my day job I’m a tenants’ rights attorney. So I’ve had a front row seat to the eviction crisis in Atlanta,” Cole Thaler said. Thaler says rising rents have priced so many people out, and it’s harder to find affordable housing that will accept dogs and cats. So Cole created Paws Between Homes. It’s foster care for the family pet. Cole himself is one of the non-profit’s foster parents, looking after a dog named Missy. “As the family is working to get on its feet in new housing, somebody will take care of and love their pet and then reunite the family and pet once they do get back on their feet,” Cole said.


The non-profit also covers the cost of pet food and veterinary care. “When she actually left to go to her temporary place, I cried,” Chavandia said. But she knew Bella was in good hands, and months later the family was back together again. Shamiya says she’ll always be grateful. “This program coming to me at the time was a blessing, because I didn’t want to lose my cat,” Shamiya said.

Paws Between Homes currently has about two dozen foster families, but Cole says it’s not nearly enough to meet the need. For now they can only help pet owners who live inside the perimeter.

To learn more about Paws Between Homes, click here.

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