After Family Promise of Beaufort County could not help a few homeless families because they had no place for their pets, executive director Elliott Brown decided there had to be a better way.
She contacted Palmetto Animal League president Amy Campanini, and the two came up with a plan. Campanini said she would try to find people who would be willing to foster the animals when their owners come to Family Promise for assistance.
And that was the beginning of a collaborative effort called PAL's Promise. Now when homeless families come to the local chapter of Family Promise, the organization contacts PAL, which then places the animals in foster care. The pets can remain in foster care for up to three months, the same amount of time people are provided shelter through Family Promise.
"For one, it allows them to have shelter when they would otherwise be living in their car or somewhere else," Brown said. "This time, it has allowed them to continue seeing the animal throughout the whole time. (We are) just trying to provide as much stability in the children's lives as we can."
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But Brown said PAL deserves most of the credit for this new program. She said the animal rescue organization does most of the work.
Campanini said PAL will provide food and vaccinations, and will even spay or neuter pets if needed.
"Whatever it takes to keep the animal stable while the family is getting back on their feet so when they can reunite, everybody is on better foundation," Campanini said. "So that was the genesis of the idea -- keeping families together. Otherwise, those animals end up with us potentially anyway, and if they don't end up with us, they could actually end up in a much worse situation."
When Kristi Kinard and her two young children entered Family Promise in October, their dog was the first to be fostered through PAL's Promise.
The Kinards had had Daisy for almost four years and had grown attached to her. Kinard said they were all emotionally attached to the dog and couldn't stand the thought of losing her.
The Kinards were able to visit with Daisy for several hours every Sunday. Kinard said she and the kids really looked forward to Sundays.
"They are all over her, and she's all over them," she said. "They're ecstatic to see her."
On Dec. 6, the Kinards moved into their own place. And they took Daisy home with them.
Kinard will continue to receive case management through Family Promise for another 12 to 18 months.
She is grateful for both organizations' help.
"Without this program, I couldn't imagine us emotionally coming this far," Kinard said.
Follow reporter Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.